April 23, 2012

A Little Epiphany

This post obeys Cynwise's Five Rules.
"We're all desperate to be relevant." - Denny Crane, Boston Legal
I've come to a realisation lately. Most of the decisions I've made in the last few years, and most of those I am making for the next few years, stem from a desire to be relevant and necessary to others. Job choices, career choices, plans for the future. All to fly my flag a little higher and mean just a little more to people.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a moping session. It's a strange moment when you grasp such an intrinsic truth so suddenly. It's taken me a few days to get my head around it, to articulate even in my own inner monologue what exactly this all means. Luckily, the weather here has been wet and grey at the moment which is perfect for some introspection.

The exact reason I thought of this is lost in my mental soup of memories from last week but I know it was raid healing that sparked it. I've healed for my guild as a holy paladin for the whole of Tier 13. I volunteered, in fact, to be a healer when it became clear that we would have to recruit new raiders otherwise. I remember spending a lot of time talking about it with everyone, asking if it would be ok, asking if it was the right choice. Obscuring my actual motive, which in hindsight was becoming more important to my raid team by fulfilling a role that not everyone could/wanted to.

I like to believe that I've done a good job these last few months. Many a time my Lay on Hands has saved a tank from imminent doom, or my Hand of Protection has covered a cooldown miscalculation. I don't like to heal for the sake of numbers and I probably look worse on the meters for it, but meters aren't any measure of a healing team and when we beat that boss, all of us happy with ourselves and each other, that's enough for me.

On the other hand, the stress of healing when I'd barely gotten good at DPSing has been huge. The pressure of missing that Lay on Hands because I fumbled the mouseclick and letting a wipe happen has made me crankier than repeated wipe nights ever did as DPS. Not ever hitting the same numbers as two great, experienced healers put a dent in my confidence however much I rationalised it, and it put a dent in my mana pool on the nights that I let 'keeping up' dictate my choices.

The worst part has probably been two-healing everything. Experienced raiders amongst you may be shaking your heads right now, wondering why I didn't see that coming when I'm terrible at melee and Retribution was not a viable offspec. We'd never been good enough to run a whole raid with two healers before though, out of choice. It's been successful, but brutal. On those nights when raiding was the last thing I wanted to do - and we all have those nights, where work has been awful, you're tired, you're a bit low and all you're really up for is some low-level alting - two-healing Spine or Madness was a soul-crushing job whether we wiped or aced it.

My healing partner is a lovely and talented disc priest. We do a pretty good job, actually, when I'm on the ball and not exhausted from a mentally numbing day of emails. I feel like my lack of skill makes two-healing it even harder on her though, like she's picking up my slack. It's not a nice feeling. I ought to believe her when she tells me that's rubbish but there's a little corner of brain that is convinced it's true.

What I've realised is that this stems from my anti-privilege complex as the guild & raid leader's girlfriend. I might have been here since the start (and I'm still rocking #2 on all-time guild activity) but we're long past getting our guild to level 25. I don't like the idea that I might retain my spot in our raid team purely because of my romantic partner and more to the point I am scared that someone else might think that's the case. I've let it become a chain that stops me speaking my mind or demanding what would be right, fearful of being seen as a favourite if what I want happens.

So I went healer, so that I could contribute more. It's been a rollercoaster few months but now the ride is almost over, I think I enjoyed it less than I should have done. What's worse is that I still don't feel like I've earnt my place, even though I am being bludgeoned with the knowledge that I have by some very lovely guildmates. All I've achieved is burning myself out on raiding by trying to be something that I wasn't, something more relevant than another DPS pewpewing from 30 yards back.

All I want right now is to be that DPSer again. To be that boomkin pewpewing from 30 yards back. To be hitting respectable numbers and contributing to boss kills because goddamnit, DPS have a role to play in raids too. Without our current DPS squad, we wouldn't be clearing Dragon Soul weekly, or have done a current content heroic boss. It took giving it up for something I enjoyed less for me to see that.

We're all desperate to be relevant, but we have to make sure the cost isn't too high. For me, it's made me an insufferable partner on raid nights and a grumpy guildmate to have around. That's far too high for something that's meant to be fun, for the love of Zeus. I've learnt something though, and I'm determined to make the most of it. In Mists, I'll be raiding Tier 14 as a boomkin once again. I might have to relearn my class. I might sit bottom of the meters for weeks. I will raid in the way that makes me happy though, and I will be trying my best to ignore the little voice that says I don't deserve that spot. Ara is coming back, and ain't no-one gonna keep her down.

April 14, 2012

Weeks 8 - 14: An update backlog

It's been seven weeks since my last Bucket List update post. Seven. It's a great excuse to abandon the idea entirely but I don't want to stop working on this. So here we go, a massive backlog of updates.
The quick version:

  • Morríghan is now 85!
  • Shiden is now 77
  • Wildlight is now 37
  • Nefarna is now 22
  • Swiftfeather is now 10
  • Sugarstorm is now 10
  • Sinuosity is now 10
  • Skinning - to 475
  • Leatherworking - to 345
  • Enchanting - to 289
  • Inscription - to 186
  • Engineering - to 150

In seven weeks, I've done an abysmally small amount of work towards the List. For the last six of those I've been covering two roles while my employer faffs about and it's sucked all the energy out of me, making me useless once I get home every night. My lovely boyfriend has been really supportive and my cover finally started this week so it can only get better from here.

The biggest relief was hitting 85 on Morríghan, finally! I even ran dungeons with guildies and did enough DPS in frost spec to be a help rather than a hindrance, which was unexpected. Running these confirmed that I am rubbish at melee DPS; I lose sight of my character, muck up which direction to be facing and struggle mentally with not being able to attack until I've run to the next thing. In the long term, I'd like to run enough all-guild dungeons to hit the LFR item level but it's a low priority now. She's 85 with two maxed gathering professions and that's her purpose in the team!

Once that was out the way I moved straight onto Shiden and I am having a blast playing an elemental shaman! It's so much fun and even at 77 has really overshadowed my enjoyment of balance druid DPS. I can't articulate why but it just feels better, more satisfactory. Now is not the time to worry about this though - Mists will change everything up again so I am trying not to feel like I'm betraying Ara by thinking this. I'm hoping to hit 80 this weekend and then build up some rested bonus ready for another Hyjal grind. More Cataclysm zones would have been nice, I'm starting to think.

Wildlight got some levelling love because I wanted to hit 35 in order to train enchanting to the next bracket so that the DMF profession quest wouldn't go to waste! Shadow priesting is good fun but when DoTs are pointless it gets a little samey. Hopefully there'll be more going on at higher levels but ultimately this is the price I pay for wearing full heirlooms and facerolling the content. I've been lucky with enchanting, getting skill points from yellow recipes and making money back on scrolls, so it's not been the worst grind in the world (I'm looking at you, tailoring).

My sniffly warlock only gets levelled when the boy is free because I stupidly agreed that I'd be a levelling buddy for his worgen druid. Foolish. She did hit 22 in the last rush though, and there are 6 other classes to get to 85 before it becomes urgent...and she has a Felsteed. I love Felsteeds!

I've tidied up my low-level alts too, and got them all to level 10 so they could have a talent spec! Swiftfeather is going to level as a Beast Mastery hunter because she's very connected with nature in my mind and it makes sense that she'd choose to work closely with animals she's tamed. Sugarstorm is a delightful gnomish mix of spiky armor and pink pigtails, always accompanied by a little rabbit, so I've gone for Fury just to amuse myself. Sinuosity is an older, jaded night elf who feels at home in the shadows so she's being levelled as Subtlety.

There's still a lot to do, for sure. I want to start updating my progress once a fortnight, so hopefully next time I'll have a shaman at 85 and gearing up!

April 05, 2012

Noblegarden 2012 - Rabbits Revisited

This year, Noblegarden is running from Sunday 8th - Saturday 14th April. Are you a Noblegarden noob? Fear not, intrepid achievement hunters! If you need a guide to Noblegarden, click here for my 2011 guide!

The achievements which make up the meta haven't changed this year, but a new reward has been added: Swift Springstrider can be yours for the low, low price of 500 chocolates*. It also has a small chance to drop from eggs! Let's see how that affects the total number of chocolates you'll need to farm:

Noblegarden Egg (5 chocolates)
Blossoming Branch (10 chocolates)
White Tuxedo Shirt and Black Tuxedo Pants (25 chocolates each)
Spring Robes (50 chocolates)
Spring Flowers (50 chocolates)
Spring Rabbit's Foot (100 chocolates)
Chocoholic achievement (100 chocolates)
Swift Springstrider mount (500 chocolates)

That would be a total of  865 chocolates! Madness! Don't panic though. Almost all of the items you need to buy will drop for you while you're gathering the chocolatey currency. In 2011, this is what dropped for me while I was egg-hunting:

5 Blossoming Branches
3 White Tuxedo Shirts
Black Tuxedo Pants
Spring Robes
2 Spring Flowers
3 Spring Rabbit's Feet

As you can see, all I needed in the end were 5 chocolates for the Noblegarden Egg and 100 more for the Chocoholic achievement. Don't hold me to it, but I predict you won't need more than 605 chocolates this year, and that's for a character completing all achievements and wanting the mount in the same year (in which case we are kindred spirits, you and I). Keep a running total of how many chocolates you still need as things start dropping for you, and don't buy anything until you have enough chocolates to cover everything that hasn't/can't!

Good luck, and Happy Noblegarden!

*All credit to Allison Robert at WoW Insider for my knowledge of that change! Her Noblegarden 2012 guide is extremely good and you should go read it too.