Category Archives: WoW

Post x-pack lulls: Cataclysm versus Wrath

A post on WoWinsider last night declared that raiding guild activity, in-game, is down 50% so far this year. The metric comes from GuildOx and I admit, the way it’s presented is a bit misleading. Activity, per GuildOx, is defined as new boss kills or achievements: farming runs don’t register. A guild stalled out at 4/8H doesn’t register since they’re not getting new kills or achievements.  While the metric is partially indicative of “activity”, it also shows that many guilds that are raiding have completed the level of progression that they’re going to reach. Those guild might still be doing farming runs or alt runs, but they’re not “advancing” since there’s nowhere to go.

Is this different from Wrath? I think, in part, yes. I know we were still working on a LK kill up until a few weeks before Cata’s release…and we finished DS weeks ago. My impression was also that more guilds were working on heroic modes or just finishing progression as we headed towards Cataclysm. Back in Wrath, I would constantly see raiding guilds looking for pick-up players or recruiting, and there was a high PUG raid activity on my server. I only see the occasionally “LFM DS” announcements now and most of the raiding groups I know have shut-down operations largely until MoP.  We haven’t really run DS in two weeks now due to lack of interest; we got our legendary daggers,  our mains are geared, and we’ve full cleared the raid multiple times now.  Not everyone is interested in heroic modes; which is fine by me!

The game feels so much emptier now than it did before Cataclysm. Up until a few weeks before Cata’s release, I was chaining dungeons on Anatevka to get her shadow gear and hoping to alt-hop into one of our ICC runs.  Ana’s been geared via LFR for a couple months now and has nothing to gain from valor points or dungeons outside of normal DS. I’m still having fun in-game, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been leveling a new priest and sporadically working on reps for Rhia. I’ve been working on some RP ideas to prepare for Mists. But I feel more -DONE- in the Cata content than I ever did in Wrath.

I’m not quite sure why that is, either. Are we really just that much better at the game that we’re burning through content faster or was there just that much less end-game content at 85?

Advertisements

The Mists Shaman: Talents

As beta winds to a close over this summer, we draw nearer and nearer to the pre-Mists patch and the redesigned talent trees.  While the full-scale changes to the talent system can seem daunting, things become much easier to sort out once you actually dive in.

I went through and picked out my first iteration of preferred talents – and actually gave them a bit of a run through in some Mists dungeons. My talent focus is on healing in a group situation (PvE), so you’ll see a bit more healing and utility orientation than if I was selecting for more of a solo’ing or damage-focused build.

Level 15 talents

At level 15, you can choose between:

Nature’s Guardian – Ye olde “if your health is reduced below 30%, your max health is increased and your threat is reduced”. And about as MEH for a resto shaman as the original talent was. (Hey, if my health is getting that low, getting a boost to my health pool and reduced threat probably isn’t going to help much.)

Stone Bulwark Totem – Creates an initial and then periodic shield over the caster. CD time is 1 minute.

Astral Shift – Shift into the astral planes, reducing damage taken by 40% for the duration. CD time is 2 minutes.

Of these talents, Stone Bulwark is possibly the most viable (wholly dependent on how the scaling feels at 90 with the shield), mostly due to the low CD time and the fact that it’s a totem that will get reset with Call of the Elements (see below for more info on this MUST HAVE talent) so you could theoretically use it back to back. Astral Shift would be more useful for soaking heavy damage attacks (like Ultraxion’s Hours of Twilight), but it’s not a totem that benefits from Call of the Elements and its CD is twice that of Stone Bulwark.

I will, however, be going with Astral Shift because it suits Rhianon’s character more. Note to tanks: ONLY Nature’s Guardian reduces threat, so if the shaman is eating damage due to pulling aggro, you’ll still need to taunt off. This is mostly for my benefit, since I pull aggro a great deal (although our resto druids have been taking the cake for me on Blackhorn!).  I like to blame my big single target heals.

Level 30 Talents

Level 30 talents are our Crowd Control and/or Utility talents.

Frozen Power: Your frost shock will now encase the target in ice for five seconds.

Earthgrab Totem: Similar to our current Earthbind totem in effect. Roots enemies in range for 5 seconds and then reduces their movement speed (if already rooted once) for the remainder of the duration.

Windwalk Totem:  Grants party and raid members in range a brief period of immunity to movement-impairing effects.

Windwalk will have most of its use in PvP, unless there is some boss encounter that snares the entire raid when you need to be moving. Frozen Power will have the most kiting utility, but only against a single target. Earthgrab has the limitations of our current snaring totem (pulse and range), but will be effective against multi-targets.

The selection of this talent mostly depends on what you will be using it for, so you may want to switch it depending on what bosses/fights you will be facing. Frozen Power for single target kiting (think the adds on Erudax in GB), but Earthgrab whenever you need to multi-target kite or snare. I’ll probably be sticking with Earthgrab for the time being.

Level 45 talents

I like the call the Level 45 talents the “Tier of Glory” because not only does it have one talent shaman have been asking for since we had totems (“Why can’t I throw my totems at a location??”) but it also the first of the two most important, MUST HAVE talents for restos.

Call of the Elements : Resets the CD’s on all your totem spells with base CD’s less than 5 minutes. This includes – Healing Tide, Spirit Link, Mana Tide, Healing Stream, etc. This talent is pure awesome. I used it in dungeons on the beta and basically turned into a healing superhero. I’ve been babbling on vent for the past few weeks about how I can’t wait to have this talent in my arsenal (“Wouldn’t TWO spirit links back to back on 4th platform Madness be awesome?!! WELL, when I have my Mists talent —“) I’m sure everyone is sick of me by now.

Totemic Restoration: Reduces the CD on totems if they are destroyed or replaced before the CD is finished. P

Totemic Projection: Tosses your totems to the selected location.

I don’t even really need to bother going into these other two talents because Call of the Elements is such a must have. Briefly — Totemic Restoration will have its most use in PvP where your totems might be targeted/destroyed or if you are dopey and often place your totems in spots where they get destroy (or replace them before they are finished). Totemic Projection might be useful for a placing Spirit Link or Healing Tide/Healing Stream in a large raid environment. And Call of the Elements pretty much blows both of these out of the water.

Level 60 Talents

The Level 60 talents are more “I’ll have to see how these work out at 90”. Nothing screams “TAKE ME!” and all could theoretically have some use in specific circumstances.

Elemental Mastery: Boost your haste by 30% for 20 seconds.

Ancestral Swiftness: Nature’s Grace with a buff. Reduces the cast time of your next nature spell by 100% and passively buffs your haste  by 5%.

Echo of the Elements: Each damage or healing spell you cast has a chance to have a duplicated effect. So you might get two GHW’s for the price of one.

Echo is not really a healing talent as duplicated, unpredictable healing often means overheal (which will be doubly bad with our limited mana pools in Mists). Elemental Mastery will give you a situational HIGH boost to your haste which may be helpful in responding to spike damage situations. Ancestral Swiftness will provide your “OH CRAP” tank heal and a static boost to throughput.

I’ll probably be playing with both talents to see which is more useful once I get into raiding/end-game. In the beta, I’ve found Ancestral Swiftness to have more overall usefulness in the early five man dungeons, but I could see Mastery having more value in a raid environment where periodic throughput boosts for raid healing will outpace the smaller static boost and tank-saving heal.

Level 75 talents

Level 75 – another glorious tier of talents.

Healing Tide Totem: Creates a totem that will periodically heal the 5 most injured raid or party members for a short period of time. Think – mini-tranquility/Divine Hymn.

Ancestral Guidance: Copies 40% of your direct healing and or damage as healing to a nearby, injured raid or party member. Redesign of ye olde Ancestral Awakening talent that most of us dropped to take Spirit Link.

Conductivity: Somewhat complicated — when you cast healing wave, great healing wave, healing surge or lightning bolt at a target in your healing rain, the allies in your healing rain share healing equal to 20% of the damage or healing done.

This is one of those tiers where your selection will probably vary as you progress at end-game. Healing Tide totem is a fantastic small group/raid cluster cooldown that when combined with Call of the Elements will give you extremely high output over a tight period of time. Ancestral Guidance is more gimmicky and probably won’t provide as much of a boost to your throughput since, while it’s a smart heal, you can only have the effect active for a short period of time and requires the ally to be in range. It may be somewhat useful in a small group setting but definitely outpaced over the course of a fight by bigger CD’s like Healing Tide Totem. Conductivity may be more useful in a raiding environment since it would require high Healing Rain uptime combined with single target healing in your HR (not the usual chain healing). Healing Tide is the clear winner here for me, particularly with how you can combine it with Call of the Elements.

Level 90 Talents

I don’t have a beta character at 90 nor are pre-mades available, so I haven’t been able to test out these talents. My perspective is purely “theoretical.”

Unleashed Fury: Increases the effectiveness of your Unleash Elements (Earth Living – further increases your next single target heal on the target by another 50%.)

Prime Elementalist: Turns your Earth and Fire Elements into “pets” under your control with additional abilities. Of note to the Resto shaman, the fire elemental gets Empower which increases your healing done by 10% and the earth elemental gets Reinforce which reduces your damage taken by 20% and increases your healing done by 10%.

Elemental Blast: A blast of elemental energy that temporarily buffs your haste, mastery or crit (whichever stat is higher) by 3500.

Of these, Prime Elementalist will provide the most overall throughput, particularly when combined with Call of the Elements — unless Elemental Blast’s 3500 rating increase is ridiculous at level 90. The limiting factor with Elemental Blast is that you need to weave it into your spell casts, which if you are still taking Lightning Bolt, may be harder than anticipated. Unleashed Fury is the most painfree talent at 90, but a further 50% increase in a single target heal could definitely be outpaced easily in a raid environment with periodic 10% increases in total healing from Prime Elementalist. Unleashed Fury is only of high value if you take Ancestral Guidance AND will be doing a high amount of single target, tank-focused healing.  I might suggest taking Unleashed Fury for 5-man groups and swapping to Prime Elementalist in a raid environment.

Of course, all these selections are prone to change over the remaining course of the beta and during the initial period of launch. I remember thinking how lackluster Telluric Currents was at Cata launch – and it turned into one of my favorite talents. Things also change a bit when you switch your focus from 5-man dungeons to raiding. I can see playing with talents such as Conductivity or Elemental Mastery  in a raid environment where there is more flexibility with the healing arrangement and/or ability to use CD-based talents more regularly during boss encounters.

Once the pre-patch releases, we’ll be doing some Dragon Soul to try out our new abilities and I’ll have a better handle on how these abilities actually function in a live raiding environment.

Screenshot Dump

Back the beginning of Wrath, my husband built a new computer for me and in the process of transitioning over to the new computer, I forgot to save all my WoW screenshots.

I figured I had lost all of them…but this Monday, I found a profile on Photobucket that had a bunch of old screenshots uploaded to it. I picked out a few from the bunch that either made me remember something about Burning Crusade or made me smile.

Windfury!

This one comes from the Burning Steppes when I was leveling Rhianon…as enhancement. Yes, you saw this screenshot of Rhianon in a windfury proc. I remember the day because I had just gotten a new staff from a dungeon run and I was figuring out the quickest way to get my weapon skill up — remember those old days of weapon skills?

DING!

Tanaquil aka Blood-Elf-Anatevka dinging 70 — good timing on the screenshot, no? I had been working on getting her to 70 for about 6 months at that point in time and was so close; Illegible and Deirbhile joined me to help me kill off a few things quickly so I’d ding. I have to admit, I like the shoulders Tana is wearing — red and green crazy poofy things.

Water-Walking

I’m not even sure what I was doing in this picture other than water-walking across the bay outside Theramore. A few things of note in this pic — a random heroic invite (a relic of the era before LFD) and my Totemus add on (the little circle with buttons around it), which managed my totems quite effectively before Blizzard made their own totem UI element.  Odd how little has actually changed about my UI in the 4-5 years or so since this picture!

OOPS!

The important part of this screenshot is the white text just below the targeted unit (Dahwin – priest): “Missing Enchant – Main Hand”.  You see, before ‘Unleash Elements’ reminded me that ‘You are Missing an Enchant to Unleash’, I had an add-on that would remind me if I entered combat without a weapon enchant. And even though years of shamaning has made me almost reflexively hit that weapon enchant spell every few minutes (like the Recall Totems when moving), I still somehow manage to start boss fights without Earthliving enchant. Crazy stuff.

 

 

 

And if everyone’s special…

There are no level 90 regular dungeons.

The Mists of Pandaria heroic dungeons are easier than the Cataclysm heroic dungeons.* Once we made that decision, we thought that having two versions of the level 90 dungeons (normal and heroic) didn’t make sense because they would be very similar in difficulty and offer similar loot. We thought about calling them something besides “heroic,” since heroic tends to mean hard to a lot of players, but we also needed to call them something, because some dungeons like Temple of the Jade Serpent have a lower-level and a level 90 version. We thought about calling them “level 90 versions” but figured “heroic” required less explanation. (We also could have dispensed with lower level dungeons, or made lower level versions of the level 90 dungeons, but we felt like both solutions were just to make the nomenclature of “heroic” more clear, which seemed like bad reasons.)

TLDR: Some Mists of Pandaria dungeons have lower level and level 90 versions. Others just have level 90 versions. In both cases, the level 90 versions are called “heroic.”

* – If you like very difficult dungeons, Challenge Modes are targeted at you.

source

I have to admit, I had a pretty strong reaction to this announcement last week. Effectively, there are no “heroic” dungeons in Mists, outside of Challenge Modes. While it remains to be seen just how difficult “Level 90 aka heroic” dungeons are, I assume that they’ll be at the level of difficulty of Cata normal dungeons. That is to say, not difficult in the least after achieving a modicum of gear.

Oh, but if you want difficult dungeons – just do challenge modes!

Blizzard must still be smarting from the Cata heroic dungeon debacle at the beginning of the expansion pack. They promised more challenging dungeons and delivered — only to watch a large portion of the playerbase recoil in anger and frustration. I have previously admitted to being one of the few people who enjoyed the challenge of the early heroics, but I understand what happened. I watched people avoid dungeons outside of close groups of friends and experienced the frustration of many pugs.

What went wrong? Didn’t we want harder dungeons? I remember the cry to a return of the “BC era” heroics. So, why did the Cataclysm heroic model fail so spectacularly and alienate so many players — to the point that Blizzard is effectively removing “heroics” from the game in Mists?

I think there were two major issues with the Cata heroic model, evocative of Blizzard’s misunderstanding of the role of heroics in their game. We’re not in BC, anymore, after all.

1) The dungeon culture has changed.  Back in BC, people didn’t spam heroics via LFD for gear and justice badges/points. You did your daily heroic (hopefully it was Mechanar) and that was usually it unless guildies were doing quests. Most of the gear needed for raiding was obtainable through normal dungeons, dailies, and crafting.  In Wrath, however, obtaining the last tier of gear through points/badges became an entry-level requirement for raiding and LFD’s easy access to groups made “farming heroics” a new end-game activity. In BC, my shaman did ONE heroic before starting raiding. That would be impossible to imagine today.

2) Rewards not in line with challenge. The BC era heroics, while giving high quality blue rewards akin to Cata, also offered a number of epic and “unique” items that were valuable even to raiders — gems, trinkets, etc. The epic quality drops were on par with Karazhan raid drops, similar to the Wrath model of the epic drops from the final boss being in line with Naxx 10-man raid drops. Cata removed that “big” reward from the heroic dungeons. You only got 346 blues for them, no matter what (unless you got a BOE epic drop), a whole 13 ilvls lower than the raiding tier.  So, not only were the dungeons as frustrating as BC era heroics, they didn’t reward nearly as good loot.

As originally designed, heroics were meant to be the end-game for small group players, offering high challenge and high reward. It was an alternative to raiding, not a stepping-stone to raiding.

I rather liked heroics in that role and was never fond of the dumbing-down they took in Wrath – so I welcomed the return to the higher difficulty level. That failed, obviously, for the reasons specified above — which I completely understand and agree with. I get that no one liked the Cata heroics before they were nerfed.

So, why my “strong reaction”? It’s mostly a semantic thing. Why the heck do we have to call them heroic if they’re no longer, well, heroic? Can’t we just call them 90 normals and be done with it? Because more people understand the term “heroic” — or is it because to take “heroics”, both in spirit and in name, out of the game would be bad PR? Everyone wants to be that “heroic” dungeon runner; no one wants to be the “normal” dungeon runner.

But if everyone’s special, then no one is at all…

So You Want to be a Resto Shaman

I get it. It’s all about the totems. I mean, they’re awesome. They provide useful things like healing or resistance or mana, and great ways to avoid having to use raid markers. Need to stack? “Go hug the totems!”  Also – lots of totems in one place = awesomeness.

Totem explosion from Around Azeroth WoW Insider column – click for source!

Alright, so maybe you have other reasons too.  I rolled my shaman because chain heal looks pretty. So maybe you like healing rain or the style of armor, or you like putting rocks around your tanks.

In any case, here we are and you’re going to be a resto shaman.  Tons of things are changing for us in Mists, so this first post won’t so much be a “do this” or “stack this stat” as much as a “here’s the deal with being a resto shaman.”

The bad news first:

You will have a perpetual inferiority complex.

This sorta goes hand-in-hand with one of our “good news” talking points (Jack of all trades healer). You need to get over right away that you’ll never be a disc priest with shields. You will never be a holy paladin with a beacon and holy radianceOMIGOSH. You do not have Tranquility or a chance to look like a tree. You will not be putting life-saving wings on tanks. Resto shaman have a few unique tricks, but we don’t have some of the “look at that!” bling that other classes get.  We’re getting some new things in Mists, but shaman aren’t balanced around having “omigosh she’s awesome” moments.

You will struggle with mana.

At max level, in a raiding environment or heroic environment, shaman have more mana struggles than almost any other class.  This is the number one complaint from new resto shamans. Your regen depends on keeping a water shield up, using mana tide proactively, and weaving in Telluric currents (which, by the way, means you won’t be healing during those casts). It gets better with gear, but pound for pound, the way a strong healing shaman keeps up those heals is to routinely dump chunks of their mana pool and then get it back. You just get used to the mana pool fight. I think I’ve almost trained my raid leader not to look at my mana pool as a judge for how healing is going. Oh? Spent all my mana during that black phase because we ponged the ball twenty gazillion times? No prob, just gonna lightning bolt for a bit!

You heal better when the group is struggling.

Our mastery works in such a way that we look the best when the raid or dungeon group is having a rough time. The lower everyone’s health, the more we heal for. My parses for wipes are often way better on the HPS metric than for actual kills…mostly because everyone was dying and my heals just kept getting better and better. This also means that as your group improves, you will start getting somewhat less juice from your mastery, as other classes will still be getting mileage out of theirs.

Your class has a bad rap going into Mists.

I hate to say it, but it’s true. There is more venom flung at the shaman healers on the healing forums than any other healing class (“dont play a shaman, they suck!” “LOL you heal??? Look at World of Logs!”) – and not just from other healers. Shaman hate themselves. See point #1.  It’s even in my list!! And the truth is, shaman were in a rough spot at the beginning of Cata and going into the  Firelands. If you’re rolling a healer to be loved and praised at every corner, pick at different class OR be the awesomest shamaning shaman ever. I picked the second, obviously.

The MUCH better news:

You can do pretty much anything**.

Shaman are the perfect example of the Jack of All Trades healer. You can swing between laying down heavy heals on the tank to heavy raid healing with little more than a blink of an eye. A good resto shaman is an asset to any healing team for this specific reason (screw Spirit Link Totem!): they can pick up the slack anywhere. I think one of the reason I’ve settled so well into my shaman and struggle going back to my other healers is that even at equivalent gear levels, they feel so much narrower.  Shaman will never be the best tank healers or the best raid healers, but that would be overpowered anyway.

Mana Tide makes you everyone’s best bud.

Okay, lots of shaman hate that mana tide became a reason for bleeding edge raid groups to keep bringing us back in T11 when we were struggling (prior to a few buffs). In reality, however, other than Hymn of Hope (which requires a channel), we are currently the only healing class with a mana cooldown that can help everyone. On our first Madness kill, I saw the healers heading into the Kalecgos platform with low mana all around. I happily announced, “Dropping mana tide!” (Okay, I might have sounded a little bit too happy) and watched everyone’s bars go up. That’s a good feeling.

You are the Tricksy Healer.

Shaman healers have high utility and a bunch of little tricks that make us…well…us. Back in Tier 11, I used to get a few extra heals off before Valiona used her breath attack and then popped Ghost Wolf to get out of the way before dying. I think I once kited the beams on Atramedes. In ICC, Earth Shield and my ability to kite with totems let me off-tank the weekly quest boss. Did you know that Spirit Link Totem’s healing effect ignores healing absorbs or mortality debuffs? And even though it has a 6 second CD now, you can also back-up interrupt on various attacks.

Oh, and two forms of CC.  Pretty cool, huh?  No matter the changes coming in Mists, shaman will continue to be the healing class with the highest group utility and ability to do stupid stuff.

You get one Get Out of Jail Free card.

We all make mistakes. Oops, stood in the bad! Oops, didn’t hit my button on Ultraxion! Oops, oops, oops!

Other healers – you get to stare at the ground for the rest of the fight (or your 0% health bar on the raid frames) unless you get a b-rez.

Shaman? *self rez and throw off the chains of death*  MWAHAHAHA!

This has caused much hilarity for me. One specific example: We were working on Blackhorn fight in Dragon Soul and had a bit of an oops with people getting to the Twilight Assault in time. I ended up soaking one all by my lonesome and died. My rogue buddy over vent: “Oh, no, a healer’s down — OH, it’s just Rhia.”  He sounded so relieved.  Me: “Thanks for making me feeling so special.”

So, who wants to roll a shaman now? Everyone, right?

Circle of Healing Redux – Shaman Version

I’m picking up this questionnaire that circulated around the healing blog community last summer; I wasn’t blogging when it first started out, but I did read it on Totem Forest – and it seems like a great thing to go back to during this pre-Mists lull.

Name, class and spec: Rhianon, Restoration Shaman

What is your primary group healing environment? 10-man.  Outside of LFR (and the random Wrath pug), I haven’t been in a 25-man since BC.

What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?

Riptide. Who doesn’t love the sploosh? I was a complete non-believer in riptide when they first released it at the end of BC/beginning of Wrath, but now I can’t imagine NOT casting it on cooldown. Aside from the perfect sounds and animation (I love the idea of tossing some water on someone), the tidal waves buff to greater healing wave and associated spells – yes please.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Overall, I probably cast healing surge the least. I really only use it for “omigosh someone’s going to die” since the mana cost vs healing output is so terrible. If I have an extra second, I’d much rather use another spell — but Healing Surge is fast in a pinch. Unleash Elements is a close second, but I really try to use it on CD on heavy raid damage phases. Other than that, it can be a little clunky to throw into a standard rotation if nothing crazy is happening.

Revision: Okay. I cast healing surge alot when I’m bored and know I have the mana to spare. But that’s seriously NOT something anyone should be copying!

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Shaman are extremely versatile. We can back-up the tank healers with ease; we can back up the raid healers with ease.  I’ve always loved healing on my shaman because of that ability to swap between heavy hitting direct heals and AOE love. Read the rest of this entry

Real-life Mogging

In-game, some folks spend lots of time putting together awesome outfits to make their characters look…well…like themselves. (Although apparently ALOT of our characters are very fond of dressing scantily?) It’s called transmog or mogging.

In real life,  some people likewise spend great deals of time putting together great real-life mog sets – aka Fashion. While most of us probably stick to ye olde jeans and tank top route more often than not, fashion, just like mogging, is an avenue into a world of endless possibility. Bohemian? Steam punk? Gothic? Modern? Romantic? Edgy?  Someone once said fashion is a “fantasy” and I couldn’t agree more.

One amazingly brilliant WoW’er decided to put together mogging and fashion, and thanks to an online fashion tool named Polyvore,  clipped together real-life outfits based on WoW designs and zones. I basically spent all afternoon yesterday devouring their feed (the Nagrand set is one of my favs) and I recommend you guys check it out as well!

But, of course, that got me thinking — which is always a dangerous proposition. If my characters stepped off the screen and into the real world, what kind of real world fashions would they be wearing? What would their real-life mog set be like?

And thus, I became addicted to polyvore.

Rhianon RL mog

~~ Rhianon ~~

Here, I took a bit of a peek into Rhianon’s wardrobe. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from her – lots of romantic touches and florals – and a bit of a bohemian vibe. The bright red pumps really make the set though, a bit of sexy “come hither” popping out from all the feminine softness. Click here to get the polyvore set with info on all the pieces showcased!

Gilberte

~~ Gilberte ~~

And now for something totally different! Gilberte’s closet is flashy and pretty chic, very “downtown” girl.  The white blazer gives the cocktail dress some professionalism, but you know it’s Gilly when you see the over-the-top red lip clutch. Gilly wears her personality on her sleeve (or her body, in this case), so mysteriously sexy bright shoes like Rhianon’s aren’t really suitable. She goes for classic black heels. Once again, here’s the polyvore set with all the fashion details.  (And holy crap, I just realized that that silly little clutch is $730!!! That’s why fashion is a fantasy, boys and girls.)

Anatevka

~~ Anatevka ~~

I have to admit, putting together Ana’s set was much more difficult. I opted for a great deal of Vivienne Westwood – punk with a Victorian flair.  Ana’s style, while bold, is not as overtly in-your-face as Gilly’s wardrobe. She doesn’t need a sleek red dress to catch anyone’s eye; she can do that quite well on her own, thank you very much. I love how glamorous and mature the looks turned out, while still being somewhat romantic. And Ana could totally pull off the sparkly dress.  Got lots of cash? You too can dress like Anatevka.

Thanks to Azerothian Appearance for giving me the great inspiration (to waste about 5 hours staring at gorgeous clothes). Now I will have to spend the rest of the week fighting the urge to go shopping. *shakes fist*

Would you like a macaron with those boar ribs?

Back in college, I spent a semester studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. I actually don’t remember much about my courses there (except that one crazy teacher with red hair who was proud to be from Bretagne and told us stories about ladies giving birth on trains during World War 2) – but I will never forget the bakeries.

Small patisseries and bakeries dotted my path from my apartment to the campus. The cases were eye-popping and the smells intoxicating. Each day after my morning class, I would count out my change and buy a demi-baguette to eat with lunch, which was usually cheese from a shop, butter, a yogurt tin and sliced ham. (Somehow, I was approaching the “underweight” end of the BMI scale when I came back from Paris, despite a diet of bread, wine, cheese and butter. Crazy, right?)

So, when the idea of my character opening a bakery in the heart of Stormwind popped into my head, I knew exactly what I had in my mind:

A little piece of heaven

A little piece of heaven, for just a few euros!

And later on, that got me to thinking – what is Azerothian cuisine actually like? Some of the food items we see in-game have ready real world comparisons: buttery wheat rolls, boar ribs, and the like. But the serious part – could my shaman really have a bakery like the ones in Paris  in Azeroth?

I think, in this case, RPers are free to take a certain amount of license with the in-game world. We know that Azerothians eat cake, pie and muffins, among other sweet delights. Is it that outlandish to think that some enterprising cook came up with a souffle? Or a macaron? Doubtful that the treats would have the same names, but for the sake of not messing up everyone’s head, you might as well call a macaroon a macaroon and a crepe a crepe.

So, last week, Rhianon offered a tray of small colorful fruits shaped out of sugary nut-paste….otherwise known as “marzipan”.  Because she has the best, most delightfully European bakery ever (in Azeroth).

And yes, I realize that marzipan most likely has Arabic roots. But there’s nothing more quintessentially European to me than Marzipan confections.

Would you like a lemon or a strawberry?

Why I don’t Beta (much)

Blues announced last night that heroic dungeons were open and ready for testing in the Mists beta – which promptly set off a flurry of “omigosh, it’s going to be released tomorrow” comments. While I don’t anticipate a summer release, I can envision an early fall release at this point.

Alot of other bloggers have been diving head first into beta game-play and such for the past few months, and kudos to them. Their posts about new mechanics, animations and the like are great teasers for what promises to be an excellent expansion pack. I’ve, of course, been following the shaman changes and reading tidbits here and there about what’s to come.

Lots of new places to explore!

That being said, I’ve spent a total of 1 to 2 hours in the beta since I got my key. I did two separate runs of dungeons on my main to get a feel for some of the changes and then toyed around with the panda character creation screen. I have many guild buds who have jumped right into the content and been leveling and exploring in Panda-land since they got their access. I’m glad for that, honestly, since it will make it much easier to coordinate and plan RP and in-character questing/dungeoning once the pack is released.

I, however, have deleted the beta from my computer and don’t plan on doing anything further with it until launch. I want it to be fresh and new to me. I want landing on Pandaria with Rhianon to be not something I’m finally doing “for real”, but filled with the rush of “the first time.”  Nothing is ever quite like your first time experiencing something — a book, game, etc (you can elaborate as you will).  I can never read The Poisonwood Bible again for the first time, and even though I’ve enjoyed it immensely on subsequent readings, it doesn’t give me the same rush.

I want to be a Panda virgin. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in that! Do you want Mists to be completely new when you start up the game on launch day? Or do you enjoy getting “prepared” by playing in the beta and learning the zones/dungeons before release?

About a Shaman

I’m a bit late in coming to this, but I recently came across the challenge series for the New Blogger Initiative (thanks to a link on a blog I was browsing yesterday). I’m not quite sure how I missed the series since I signed up for the Initiative, but I like to blame the excessive amounts of work I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks.

One of the challenge topics was to tell a bit about your main character.  I did a short blurb about all of my characters on the Games Present page, but I don’t think that really tells the full story. Why do I play Rhianon, a resto shaman, as my main? What keeps me coming back to her?

Rhianon is one of those odd characters who took on a life of her own somewhere between 1 and 70 when I first rolled her back in Burning Crusade. I really intended her to be an enhancement shaman (healing?! That’s for wimps!) – but my guild encouraged me to try resto since they only had one resto shaman for raids and that was an alt of one of their best DPS’ers. I fully admit to NOT thinking chain heal was worthwhile at all when I first got the spell around level 40. Chain heal? Why would I ever cast that? It looks dumb!

Fast forward a few months and 30 levels, and I was hooked. Rhianon the enhancement shaman became restoration for life, and five years later, I haven’t looked back.

The character herself had a similar “wait, a second – what happened?” development process.  Rhianon was originally supposed to be a petulant young Draenei who ran away from her Da and the Exodar.

Somewhere along the way, she’s become a young woman who is alternatively wise and whimsical — silly but also incredibly sensitive and caring. She walks with Spirits and sometimes loses her way in the real world.  A friend recently compared Rhianon to the Enchantress companion in Diablo 3, and I’d have to agree.  She usually comes across as not being “all there”; she finds the mundane fantastic and the fantastic mundane.

There’s something about roleplaying Rhianon that is both easy and complicated: she’s full of gusto for life, but there’s a great softness and delicacy to her personality as well.  At first blush, she seems out of place on a battlefield – but then as you get to know her, you understand why she’s out there.

I had this lovely portrait of Rhianon commissioned over the 2011 Christmas holidays and I really think it captures her beautifully. (Thanks, dekraus!!)