Friday, July 30, 2010

AH Dabbling

It's been a very busy RL week. Raiding decisions got put on hold while I dealt with stuff.  Not fun stuff.  Stuff that ended up making me VERY sleep-deprived.

Sadly there was almost no wow. Or SC2.  I have the lovely box but haven't had the time or brain energy to install and start playing it.

So instead I'm going to talk about AH dabbling. I do dabble, really.  I have some enchants that I stick up from time to time, I pay some attention to raw mat costs, and I try to post my cut gem every day, but I don't take it seriously and I don't attempt to hit the gold cap.  I generally try to have enough to buy epic flying or other things as I want them, but that's about it.  I figured I'd talk about nice dabbling opportunities, ones that don't require a huge outlay of gold or time but do decently well for me.  You'll need a max profession for most of these.

1. Gem flipping.  This only works if you have access to a max jcer with a nice selection of epic cuts. The uncut gems can vary wildly in price, so I'd get a sense of the market before jumping in.  But really all you do is...
a) purchase cheap uncut gem (epic)
b) find best epic cut (this may not be the one that is the highest price.  Some of the more popular cuts, like a runed cardinal, will be slightly cheaper but sell better.)
c) cut gem and list on AH
d) profit!
The profit here can be rather nice. I picked up about 8 ametrines for 60g each (that's quite cheap for my server), and am gradually cutting and reselling from 100-120g each.

2. Prospecting.  I use Wow Prospector to determine if it's worth it or not. Since I also do my jcing daily, even if I can't sell the green quality gems I'll eventually use them, so not a loss either way.

3. Transmutes. Because of all that prospecting and/or mining, I tend to have gems lying around. One blue gem + one eternal = one epic gem, with the chance of multiples since my alchemist is transmute spec'd.

4. Inscription. I make vellums, resell inks, and make cards for Darkmoon decks. The vellum and inks are probably your best bet, as the price of Eternal Life is higher than most of the cards sell for right now.

5. Enchants. I dabble here, really. Vellums come from the scribe, and mats from the AH if I can get them cheaply, or from dungeon runs. There's about 100 g profit in selling a scroll of Enchant Staff: spellpower (the best one), and it means I don't have to lay out 500g every time Lyllea gets a new staff.

6. Selling everything. Yup, everything you get from leveling, all that stuff.  Mail to bank alt and sell. You might want to avoid the weekends for this, as the low-level markets get flooded with leveling alts selling stuff.

Now the most important thing to remember is....
Everything has a cost.  Farmed mats are worth what you can get on the AH for them, they are NOT free. To give an example...
I often mine ore on my way to ICC.  If I luck out and get a scarlet ruby out of one, that's 40 g. Now, I can send that to my alchemist, combine with an eternal fire and get a cardinal ruby out of it, but the cost to make that cardinal ruby is still eternal fire cost+ scarlet ruby cost.  Make sense?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Once again, I am contemplating finding a proper raiding guild. I love my guild, I really really do, but I want two things it seems incapable of managing...
1. Raids that actually happen
2. And start on time

I have really been enjoying raiding with Positive Push, but the Saturday night thing is a bit of a problem. Saturday night is the night my friends generally get together, and it's also the night PP runs their 25 mans. Any other night of the week I could manage without a conflict, but Saturday is problematic.

I don't want SERIOUS raiding, just um, killing the Lich King eventually, and fun. Ooh, and an earlier start time to raids would be nice. I'm on Eastern time and the server's on mountain and raiding till 2 am my time can be a problem, especially since the hard fights tend to be later and I'm not really awake and there is standing in bad stuff and yeah, bad.  Ooh, and I want a guild that doesn't mind that I have mining.  I like mining, and randomly spotting ore and grabbing it makes me happy.

I'm currently looking through the recruitment threads on the realm forums, and well, healers seem to be in a bit of demand. I'd like to be able to switch-hit though, so I may have a bit more of a challenge. And lots of openings for holy/shadow, none thus far for disc/shadow. Gorram it, I like my bubbles.

If I decide to go forward with this, expect more posts on it. Now off to um, do real life stuff in prep for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rawr, a very simple how to

Well, guys, sorry about the lack of posts. Someone dear to me is going under the knife soon, and it's got me more than a little stressed. Normally when I'm stressed I go for escapism (like playing wow), but this time my brain has decided knitting obsessively is the way to go. I don't pretend to understand this, but at least I've gotten two shawls out of it.

But enough about me. Let's talk about a nifty little tool called Rawr.  Now, I know just enough about this program to be dangerous, but so far it's been very useful to me for optimizing my shadow stuff.  So, I bring you a simple how-to optimize your gear and generate an upgrade list in Rawr.

Step 1: Download and install, or use the nifty beta version that opens in a browser window. I used the downloaded version for all screenshots, so things may look a bit different from the beta.

Step 2: Load your character from the armory. You'll end up with something that looks like this...
That's Lyllea. On the right you can see a list of headgear.  You can use the options above the list to change which slot you're looking at, change how the gear is sorted, or remove gear from certain sources.

Step 3: Go through the gear list, clicking on the green diamond for any pieces you have available to you. I'd suggest sorting alphabetically for this step, it makes the gear easier to find.  Once you're done, head up to tools.  You're going to want to hit optimize and you get...
Now, you have many different things you can optimize for, and you can use more than one, like say dps and cost. I just went with dps. Adjust thoroughness to your liking and hit optimize.

Step 4: After working for a bit, you should get...
On the left is your current gear and on the right is what rawr thinks will give you the best dps from what you told it was available. Most of what it's suggesting for me is some regemming, which leads me to another important option. Edit gemming template. This is under tools, same as optimize, and if you're like me and object to gemming for hit on general principles you can tell rawr not to use certain gems.

Step 5: select the optimized setup.  Then go back to tools and select optimize again.  This time we're building an upgrade list.  This can take a while, so I tend to start it and wander off.  Once it's done, you get...
Except generally not with in the background. This is a list of headslot upgrades, with how much your dps would increase, and if you mouse over them it'll even tell you where they drop. This is great for making a loot priority list, since you can clearly see how much each piece is "worth". And you can even save this list in rawr, or export it.  Or if you're me, you can just jot down the best pieces and where they drop.

And the best part about rawr? It works for multiple specs and classes, can be used by tanks, dps, and healers, and has a multitude of options.  I'm really just scratching the surface here. Of course, always use your common sense as well. Rawr is a great tool, but it can screw up.   Hasn't for me yet, but it can happen, so if it's telling you something odd, go research it before you spend a ton of gold on new gems and enchants.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Addons and healing

So there's a kerfuffle about addons and healing again.  Codi at MoarHPS started it, and then the ever-awesome Righteous Orbs team chimed in.  So here's my thoughts, numbered for your convience...

1. Addons are tools. I can do basic math without a calculator. Heck, I can graph trigonometric functions on the x-y plane without a calculator.  But it's much easier with one, so why would I do it without one unless I had to? If you prefer to not use a calculator, fine. I've raid-healed without vuhdo, and well, you can have my graphing calculator when you pull it out of my cold dead hands. Seriously. I love that thing.

2. Different people need information shown to them in different ways. For some people, I have no doubt that the default ui is great. But it does not work well and is not efficient for a great many people.  This does NOT make them poor healers.  It means that *gasp!* the default ui is not one size fits all.

Now, I don't advocate being completely reliant on addons to the point where you can't heal without them. We've all had patch days where everything was borked and it was ack. The key to using addons sucessfully, imho, is to be able to cope without them when needed.

If vuhdo fails me, I know to go find some mouseover macros for pw:s and flash heal, fiddle with the default raid frames (or enable the shadowed unit frames ones if that addon's still working), and get ready to pay more attention to debuffs and prayer of mending than I generally do.  I also know to lay in some migraine meds, cause I will have one after 4 hours of raid healing with the default ui.  As far as tank-healing, well I don't actually really use Vuhdo for that. I have the tank as my target and penance, greater heal, and pw:s are all keybound.

Honestly, I feel that a healer using addons can be superior to one without addons. We've taken the time to figure out what's important for our healing style and made changes to emphasize the important things (like hots for a druid or weakened soul for me or the time left on beacon or earth shield).  But for the most part, I think it's like this...

Imagine two knitters, both about to make the same intricate lace project. One researches yarn, experiments with different kinds of needles, and spends a great deal of time making sure she has the best tools for the project possible. She swatches, makes sure she can perform all the necessary stitches with ease, and lays in a supply of lifelines. The other grabs yarn and needles from her stash (a stash is the yarn knitters have lying around for future projects) and gets started. Both projects will likely end up being beautiful, and the outside observer will likely never know who had the easier time of it, but one knitter did.  The prepared knitter. Now, Codi might argue that she's the prepared knitter, and I'd argue I am, but in the end, it only matters to us. The rest of the world sees two beautiful lace items.

In other words, if you manage to get the job done and done well, you're a good healer. The tools you choose to use to get the job done are nowhere near as important as getting the job done.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blogger appears to have eaten my World Cup post, so I'll have to rewrite it.  In the meantime, I will regale you with my raiding exploits....

I got to go to both ICC 10 and 25 on Saturday.  I two-healed ICC 10 all the way to Fester with a holy pally, which was a bit of a challenge and a lot of fun.  I got two staves out of it, Abracadaver and Maghar's something or other.  We did end up getting to Blood Princes, and I learned, once again, that I have no idea what's going on in that fight.  But I have figured out that if I stand in the corner and heal, I generally live, so I figure that works.

Then ICC 25, which I was really nervous about. I got rostered into raid 1 as a switch hitter (aka dps till we need extra heals), and I was very worried that my shadow dps wouldn't be up to snuff.  I even spent several hours on Friday playing with rawr to optimize my gear set.  All that work paid off and I ended up in the 5.5k range. (Yes, I know that seems low, but rawr tells me my max dps in current gear is 6.1k, so I figure I did good) .  I dpsed all the way to Dreamwalker (and saw Blood Queen for the first time, as well as facepulling some trash), and then healed the raid during Dreamwalker. I even managed to avoid the void zones.  I was feeling pretty confident going into Sindy, and well, I went splat.  A lot. I went from no deaths to 12. I was dying multiple times in the same attempt.  I was fail raider.  I even wiped the raid once.

That fight's the first time I really felt like a fail raider. I've never seen the fight before, and watching tankspot videos did not really prepare me. I had to shift my mindset from "keep the raid alive" to "keep me alive, then the other healers, then maybe worry about everyone else".  For those who don't know the fight, remember the dragon from Naxx with the ice blocks and blizzards? It's like that, but with death grip of the raid and penetrating cold waves (which will two-shot me and did on several occasions), and damaging caster things and you have to kill the ice blocks.   I finally got the hang of phase one, but kept dying every time I got iceblocked in phase 2 (I didn't have enough time to heal back up to full before the ice block damage thing or the aura or something else killed me).   We never did get Sindy down, which was a shame as we'd one-shot everything before it.  I think I'm going to try to talk my guild into a Naxx run, so I can at least make sure I have the line-of-sight issues down, and if anyone knows of a good Sindy survival guide, please point me at it.  I hate feeling like fail.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Real ID: Putting my Feminist Thinking Cap on

So, as I think more about this Real ID forum debacle, something occurred to me.

Blizzard is coming at this from a viewpoint of white male blindness.  It's really the least cynical explanation I can see for why they can't seem to understand that many people do NOT WANT.  Basically the thought process goes something like this...
I feel/think this way
Everyone else (or everyone else who counts) feels/thinks like me
Therefore anyone disagreeing with me is irrelevant or insane.

Now, this isn't thought out consciously, and most of the time people who think like this aren't even aware of it. It's just the way they think, and if they're made aware of it they generally do try to change it. The problem is that until they start realizing how they think, there's no point in arguing with them. If you do, you're crazy or misunderstanding them or misinterpreting them or doing anything else they can think of to use to dismiss your argument.

Blizz is thinking...
I have no problem putting my real name on the forums, so no one else should either. Or at least no one normal should, and the abnormals, well, they're trolls anyway.

Obviously there's some HUGE problems with this.  So why might people not want their names on the forums? I've complied a short list...
1. Anyone who would like to prevent or avoid stalkers. I'd suggest you go read this blog entry on RL harassment coming from WoW for more insight.
2. People who are seeking employment or feel they may seek employment at any point in the future and are aware of the negative gaming stereotype and don't want to be associated with it.
3. People whose names give away gender or racial identity and do not want to be harassed based on the same.
4. People who don't want random strangers to know personal info.
5. People who are transgender and whose name does not match who they are now. (Aka a female to male whose real name or name on account is still Alice when he goes by Alan now)

That's a lot of people that Blizzard is discounting. I can only hope that the 10k post thread plus all their green posters saying "NO!" plus the harassment of a blizzard employee who posted his own name on the thread (and I don't condone the harassment in any way) will make them see that all these people might have a point. I don't know about you, but I can only hope they realize that it only takes one crazed individual with internet and a grudge about a class nerf for one of their blue posters to get hurt or killed.  I really really hope it never happens, but it could, and putting their real name next to their posts makes it much more likely.

(And for the record, I am a feminist. I believe in equal rights and equal responsibilities for both sexes. I don't hate men, I don't think men are evil, and I've never burned a bra. I just think that things should be equal, which does include women registering for selective service, being put on the front lines in battle, that sort of thing. Part of being equal is dealing with the sucky stuff, after all)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Real ID in WoW Forums. Guess I'm never posting there again...

I like Real ID, for the most part.  It's a little odd having friends be able to bug me on random unguilded alts, but that's a minor quibble.

But this...
The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name -- with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic forums, will remain unchanged. 

Do not want. Seriously do not want. I have an internet alias for a reason. Prospective employers google for me, they're not going to find this blog, or my fanfics, or any evidence that I am a fangirl who knows far more about Lotr, HP, D&D, or WoW then most people.  My friends know about it, and while I'm not ashamed of it, I see no reason to give people a reason to not hire me or take me seriously. 

There is still quite a stigma attached to being a geek in this society, after all. 

Then there's the public safety aspect. I don't have a stalker, thank goodness, but anyone with one is unlikely to be comfortable revealing their name in an uncontrolled and potentially unsafe environment. As a single woman, one of the ways I keep myself safe on the internet is my separation of identities. I am not comfortable with Blizzard taking that away.

Yeah, this was not the best idea ever, Blizzard.  Why not link the forum accounts to a real id without displaying said RealID?  As for me, I just won't post on the forums.  This will not be a huge hardship, as I generally avoid the forums like the plague, but still....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Everything I needed to know about my class I learned from the Arena Tournament

After finishing up the Arena Tournament, I figured I'd share some of my hard won knowledge. My team did pretty good, 20/30, and I found it to be a wonderful learning experience.

I played a disc priest.  It's the class I'm most familiar with, and is generally considered to be pretty decent in pvp.  Of course, my personal survivability in BGs has always been rather stinky, because I tend to approach BGs like I do raiding.  I heal everyone and hope the big bad/many small bads don't notice me.  This is NOT an effective approach to arena.  It's not really an effective approach to PVP in general.

So, my first lesson? Your survivability is your own responsibility.  A dead healer heals no one.  Disc priests have a lovely amount of tools to ensure we survive.  We have our overpowered shields, several different heals, Pain Suppression, and a fear. You need to look at what your class has to help you survive and learn how to use those abilities.

Second lesson, shutting down your opponents.  Once you get the hang of survival, you can move on to annoying others.  There's some overlap here, as many of the abilities that help you survive do so by shutting down your opponent.  A fear's a good example of this.

Third lesson, killing your opponent. For a healer, this is always a bit of a challenge.  Let's face it, healers are not big in the damage department. But every class has some damage-dealing abilities we have access to, even if they're not very powerful.  For a disc priest, you can smite, shadow word:pain or death, use devouring plague, holy fire, penance, and even that aoe heal/damage spell that I can't remember the name of.  I'd suggest running around the world for a bit and killing mobs with various spells, to try to get a sense of what's going to be the most useful/powerful for killing.  You can also try practicing on a target dummy.

Fourth, know your abilities.  This is the biggest lesson of all.  Stuff that you never use in pve, stuff you thought was useless, well, that stuff can be highly useful in pvp.  Take Mana Burn, for example.  It's not a spell I've ever used in pve, and in fact I didn't even realize I had it till someone pointed it out.  But in pvp, denying your opponent mana can win you the match.  Drain a warlock's mana pool and either they have to try wanding you to death or they life tap and make themselves that much easier to kill.

The nice thing about the Arena Tournament is that the gear is equalized.  Everyone gets fully kited out in pvp gear, with access to all glyphs, trinkets, gems, and enchants.  In regular pvp, it's gear+skill that determines the outcome.  If you don't have enough resilience, it doesn't really matter how good you are, you're going to be one or two shot.  So, if you want to get into arena pvp now, I'd say run BGs, gear up a bit, and then find an Arena team.   And even if you're not interested in competitive pvp, pvping is a great way to learn more about your class.  Heck, it might even make you a better raider, since you get a much better sense of your class's oh shit buttons and it teaches you to think on your feet.