The Little Priestess Who Could

Keeping up with this week’s alt appreciation, I wanted to highlight my little priest. And by little, I really mean little…

Meet Ninkasi. At the time of this writing, I’ve gotten her up to level 42 and just now entering Eastern Plague Lands. To be honest, I haven’t quested much with her because I’ve been mostly healing in dungeons. That’s the thing about priests though, isn’t it. You’re almost expected to be a healer just as well as Shadow, if you’ve gone that route.

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Ninkasi posing with her homegirl Fiona in EPL!

Ninkasi has been suffering from identity crisis since her inception. I’ve made a Blood Elf, Tauren, and now this Gnome version of her, but this is certainly the furthest I’ve gotten with a priest. Why a little pink haired fem-Gnome? Because I can! I rarely play female characters, although for this one I thought it would be neat to destroy things with my shadowy beam of priesty death coming from the hands of a cute little pink-haired gnome.

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Look ma! I can’t see over the wheel!

Ninkasi doesn’t have much of a backstory yet, although I will point out what her name means. Ninkasi was the Sumarian goddess of beer when they first discovered it. If you know me at all, you know my love for beer. I’ve played Holy, Discipline, and Shadow with her so far in her early life, and they’ve all been quite fun. At the moment, I’m carrying a Shadow main spec with a discipline off spec.

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DIE by my petite hands!!!

All in all, I really enjoy the class. If I had more time to play alts, I’d certainly finish leveling her all the way to cap. She’s my only Alliance toon at the moment as well, and also happens to be the GM of the level 19 guild I own.

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RAWR! Says the mighty Ninkasi!

 

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An Appreciation for Humulus, The Paladin

Welcome back to me! Just kidding, although I do tend to let the blog get a bit dusty. Laeleiweyn from World of Lae started alt appreciation week where bloggers are asked to focus on a class for that particular week. I think it’s no accident that I just found this activity during Paladin week. In honor of that discovery, I decided to play along. Oh, and um…I’ll try to leave this as a draft until I can get home and add some photos (something I sorely lack in all of my posts).

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Humulus with his first set of tier gear and first heroic loot drop!

Although my first toon was technically a Warlock on Azjul-Nerub back in BC, I don’t technically count that toon. I don’t think I even got to level 30, and I thought using his sword on auto-attack was a good idea as a filler spell. This was a 3 month affair and then I hung it up, because I simply wasn’t having fun.

A friend invited me back to the game and I accepted and rolled my “real” first toon. This was the first one I’d give a shit about anyway. I rolled this paladin having every intention of raiding, even though I didn’t even know exactly what happened in a raid. I just knew my friend did it 3 times a week and he loved it, so by the gods, I was going to do it too!

Memorable Moments With Humulus

I’ll never forget one of my first mentors for my pally. A woman in our guild who raided with a Resto druid had a Prot/Holy Pally. I wanted to go holy for my off spec and she walked me through my first few dungeons as a healer. I healed all the way from 75 – 80 in random dungeons, and I did ok at it. This wasn’t the memorable part though. When Cata launched, I had switched my main to my Resto Shaman, but Humulus was the first alt to get the nod. I decided I wanted to learn to tank on him. I leveled all the way from 80 to 85 by questing as a Prot Pally. I had a few folks whisper me along the way and ask why I was doing it that way, and I could only respond that I was trying to get comfortable with my abilities, and this was the best way to do without putting a whole 5-man in awkward situations. I already knew that early Cata Heroics were absolutely brutal on healers, so I didn’t want to be that noob tank when I finally got there.

As luck would have it, Dreyhana (the mentor I spoke about earlier) had also switched mains to her Pally as Holy. So here’s the memorable part. When I finally dinged 85, I asked in guild chat who wanted to come with me for my maiden voyage, she volunteered to heal. After completing Deadmines (really? My FIRST heroic is freaking Deadmines?!), she whispers me: “you’re brave. Even I don’t have the balls to tank this expansion.” Of course I reassured her that she was a great player, but I have to admit I felt really good that we made it and got feedback from a player I admired. Humulus has been a main spec Prot Pally ever since, even helping lead an inexperienced guild through all of Cataclysm content, after I had taken a step back from hard core raiding on my Shaman.

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Humulus on the most badass mount in the game.

Yeah, we’re stepping backward a bit on this one. Back to WotLK. So after being really bad in the few times I got to raid with the guild, I finally showed enough improvement to where I was granted a legit trial spot on the raid team. On the last night of ICC before Cataclysm launched, the GM decided we would wrap up mount achievements on 25 man. I was so damn excited. It was my first (and coincidentally only) raid mount I earned while content was current. In fact, I flew that mount all the way through Cata, and have only recently switched to the Violet Proto Drake as my main flyer, and that’s really only because I finally earned it this year, after completing Children’s Week.

Where is Humulus Now?

Well, he’s still there. I just leveled him to 90 two weeks ago, and I’ve been lazily playing him since then. I’ve actually decided to dedicate him to earning reputations because he has 30 exalted reps and none of my other toons are even close to that. I’ll tank with him in LFR’s, older Tiers, or Flex raiding, I’m sure. He’s also my miner, and has always been my miner, so I do travel around picking up nodes on occasion. But the days of him being my main have come and gone.

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Humulus with his first prot tier set!

Semper Fi, Shado-Pan

Today, WoW Insder posted this article about the Shado-Pan so I gave it a look. http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/02/27/know-your-lore-the-shado-pan/

I have to admit that although I really do love reading about the lore within the World of Warcraft, I don’t do it enough. I’ve dabbled a bit here and there, reading about the various factions within the story, and marveled at some of their plights. While some have been more interesting than others, none have touched me more than the Shado-Pan, as presented in the article linked above.

This is where I mix the game with my personal life, I suppose. You see…the lore presented in the article immediately made me think of battle-hardened Marines, specifically those who may be suffering from PTSD. Why the Marines?

Marines are smaller in number and proportion compared to other military entities of our country. The discipline instilled in them is a tradition that dates back to the Corps’ inception. From the earliest days of boot camp, on to the battlefield, and back home being “rotated back to the world,” maintaining one’s composure or bearing is something that is a thing of pride, regardless of the pain one may feel inside.

Marines often reflect upon the things they’ve witnessed. The times they had to play “God” for a moment and choose life or death for a fellow human being. And they have to do this over and over again for the protection of those who cannot or will not do it for themselves. They fight the Sha of our world, in its many manifestations, even if others mock their motives and make claims that these Sha do not exist. The marines know. They’ve seen them. They’ve fought them. Their hearts are scarred by them. Yet, they must maintain their bearing and continue to fight. On the exterior, they’re hard—seemingly desensitized and ready for battle. Almost cold. Inside, they fight their own Sha of doubt, fear, anger, and violence. They eat at them. But they maintain their bearing. Their composure and the drive forward keep them steady.

As with the Shado-Pan of Panderia, the Marines are not immune to succumbing to the power of the Sha. There have been many acts of evil committed by members of that most noble order. It is always sad to read or hear about, and there never is any justification that makes these acts ok, but most people who judge or condemn our darkened brothers and sisters do not know the angst they must deal with—the Sha. Yet the order presses on.

After these thoughts earlier, I may now always give a /bow to the Shado-Pan as I do their quests, enter their monastery, or press on into the Throne of Thunder. I will be proud to fight for the Shado-Pan, as I was proud to fight as a Marine. While the pixelated version of this honorable order will not have the same impact on my life, from an immersion standpoint, it’s equally as important to Panderia.

Semper Fi, Shado-Pan.

Coat of Many Colors

In the Spring of 2007, I went into Barnes and Noble, straight to the music section, and was looking for the latest recording by Baiba Skride (www.baibaskride.com). I had just recently attended two of her performances of Shostakowitsch Violinkoncert No. 1 with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and was blown away by her prowess on her violin–so much so that I did attend those performances in the same weekend. The store didn’t have them in stock and would have to order it for me. That’s perfectly fine, of course. The way the guy responded to my request, though, made me chuckle a bit.

 

You see…I took my Harley that day (as I do most days). I ride with a three-pieced patch Motorcycle Club (or MC) and had my “colors” on that day. I’m a pretty big guy with a shaved head and a chin-only goatee of moderate length. The person working the music section ordered my disc for me and said something similar to “you know, I never would have guessed you to be a classical music fan.” It didn’t bother me, because although people want to believe they may or may not do it, we place generalizations on people all the time based on appearances. I’m aware of this and take those sorts of comments with a grain of salt.

 

With that said, I have been thinking a lot about the associative nature of humans and how we interact with others with similar or dissimilar interests to our own. I am by no means clinically or educationally qualified to make any professional assessments, but I have a watchful eye and have come up with some conclusions of my own. For one: I don’t fit in anywhere. Not fully, anyway. There’s no single group that I can positively identify with 100%. This is problem for some folks, but it’s how I’ve always been and I’ve learned to embrace it. No, I’m not a hipster. I even hate the term. I don’t shun pop culture or exclusive societies at all, either for who they are or any other reason. There is a time, place, and audience for all things, and for that, they should be appreciated, even if not agreed with (think Aristotle here).

 

Early Association

 

I suppose that like most kids and teens, there’s always a sense of just wanting to identify with a group of folks. I had my share of those times. My childhood was spent in the 80’s and teenage years up through the mid-90’s. That probably isn’t relevant, but I think there are some different challenges facing my kids today than I had to go through as an outsider kid. I didn’t necessarily have it tougher, just different. I wasn’t “cool” by any stretch of the imagination, but I also wasn’t the kid that everyone ignored or made fun of. I was just “there.”

 

As a teenager, I actually did make concerted efforts into fitting in with groups. I tried just about every group there was. I was in the band so I had those folks. I wrestled, tried football and baseball, so I had some of them too. I even tried hanging out with those kids who listened to the Ramones. You know those kids. You saw them in the hallway. That’s actually the funniest one to me. To try to fit in, I tried to copy their style by wearing old cut up slacks with combat boots. Wow… my Dad told me I looked like I just fell off the back of a turnip truck. I have no idea what that means, but he was probably right. Gotta love those Southern Colloquialisms.

 

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that finally decided I just didn’t give a fuck. I wore whatever I felt like, I spoke with whoever struck my fancy, and did just about whatever it was that I wanted to do. I had the most fun that year and really wish I had taken that approach from the beginning. Either way, I was an oddball and I was ok with it.

 

A Grown Ass Man

 

Transitioning into adulthood via the US Marines didn’t prove to be any different than my previous experiences with fitting in. I still didn’t have that “in” with anyone. I will say that there were 5 or 6 of us oddballs who did end up forming lasting friendships during our time together. Some of the best times of my life were spent with these guys. And they didn’t really fit in either.

 

Thus far, I’ve said all I’ve said to point out a few things about me and to sort of reinforce the breadth of my interests. I don’t like “hangin’ with the guys” but I don’t want to spend much time with a group of girls either. I wear a tuxedo every Tuesday night as an officer in a mason lodge, but I wear MC colors and ride a Harley Davidson on other occasions. I enjoy bluegrass music, heavy metal, classical, rap, country, and punk. I like tipping strippers and looking at porn, but I also enjoy some discretion and find amazing beauty in a more “classy” woman. I can fix a car in my garage, but I can also form a raid group in a video game and lead a team to moderate success. I can give a professional presentation at a meeting of colleagues, but I can also “bull-jive” with the people of my Southern/country heritage. When I don’t want to be bothered, I politely tell people to leave me alone when I think a lot of people would just suck it up. When people ask me questions, I give them direct answers without hesitation.

 

I have no doubt that there are many people who feel the way I do and don’t quite fit in. Their tastes may vary just as much or more so than my own. I’m not a special snowflake at all. How does this all tie in to a WoW blog?

 

Cliques Within the Subculture

 

Since I’ve taken to the social media side of WoW, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the interactions of folks within their own circles. Yes, these circles exist in every subculture, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What you see, though, are folks with notoriety only communicating with others of the same presence. You get elite raiders who only openly communicate with other elite raiders. You have the folks who speak to the current and trendy memes often, and they get along with each other well. There are very few “regular folks” even within the WoW community.

 

Bringing the era of my upbringing back into the discussion, the “nerd” or “geek” lifestyle was not “cool” or “trendy” by any means. Did they associate with themselves primarily? Yes, of course. But it wasn’t hip to be a geek. Now, you can be a geek and still not fit in without either creating your own niche, or filing in line within another. How did we get there? How do we select which nerds are going to be welcomed into our circles of nerd-dom? It’s a funny phenomenon to me.

 

So, I do my thing. I play game (better than some, worse than others). I try to keep social with people in and out of game. I’m often called “a really odd dude” and in the words of my dearest Cookie Monster: That’s ok with me.

Where in the World is Nastiest San Diego?

Wow! What a trip I’ve been on the past few weeks. And I’m not certain that it’s over yet. As you know from my last blog, I left <Adapt> of Spirestone at the end of September to trial with a guild called <Something Novel> on Blackrock. The server itself is a fantastic server just loaded with talented players. Being the noob to the guild, I of course sat out my first week with them as they were progressing on Heroic Ragnaros (25 man). I listened to them on Mumble and was impressed at the level of professionalism and more laid back demeanor while concurrently setting expectations and holding people accountable. That’s the way it should be, in my opinion. Leadership does not have to belittle in order to get the point across. I did sort of laugh under my breath at a comment made by the GM on October 3. After being so close to a kill on the 2nd, when the raid began on the 3rd, he simply said “if you guys are going to dick around and clutter up Mumble tonight, I’m just going to log and go to bed.” Plain and simple. This was about 30 minutes before the raid started.
 
Being in Mumble before raid starts gives players an opportunity to talk to each other about whatever they want to discuss. Sometimes it’s srsbsns, sometimes it’s not. Listening to these guys talk about their classes was just awe inspiring. The details and the “if-thens” they discussed was at a level that was both above anything I had experienced so far, and very welcomed.
 
After a couple of attempts, I had dropped out of Mumble so I could focus on finishing my VP cap for the week. About 45 minutes later, I saw the achievement spam we were all waiting for. Heroic Ragnaros. They killed him, securing US 49th 25 man. Although I was not part of the kill, I was very excited for the guild and couldn’t wait to get the opportunity to kill rag with them. After about 15 minutes or so, I started seeing a lot of folks talking about quitting. I saw things like “I don’t know where I’ll go,” etc. Then, I was seeing the yellow system messages “(player) has left the guild.” Saw that a few times. I immediately passed it off as people joking. I whispered one of the officers about what was going on and he responded with “were you not in mumble?” Uh-oh. “No, I had dropped so I could do other things while you were working on Rag.” “The GM announced that he got a job offer that will make him work too early in the morning to continue raiding. We knew for a couple weeks but were waiting for a new RL to step up. Since nobody did, we’re discontinuing raiding.”
 
W.T.F. I couldn’t really even respond. I was instantly angry. Why was recruiting still happening 6 days before the guild died? Especially irritating was that the officers knew what was going on and most already had other guilds lined up. I felt stuck and lost. Now what the hell do I do? Because of my work schedule, I’m pretty locked into an 8pm PST raiding guild. There aren’t that many out there that I feel compelled to apply to.
 
The next night was a Tuesday and they decided to do one final raid together. I got to do all the bosses with them and picked up a couple items in the process. Of course, they decided to kill Rag on normal just to have an early night.
 
The Journey Continues
 
On the <Something Novel> forums, there was already talk of a separate 10 man run going on Tichondrius with a guild called <Damage per Second> (US 6th 10 man). I was invited to go over and raid with them on a second group and I did that for a night. The idea behind the group was not to be an alt run or casual run but a 2nd progression team. In case future tiers were not linear, it would give the guild an advantage as both teams could be progressing on different bosses. We did 4/7 HM on our first night and I must say that I really don’t know if I like the 10 man environment or not. I had told the team there that I was still apping to 25 man guilds because that’s where I was the most comfortable. In fact, now that I had seen what it was like raiding with best in class people, I was only apping to guilds on that same level. Most of them were in no need of a Resto Shaman and all of them responded that while my app looked good, they just couldn’t justify another Shaman. T12 hasn’t been so nice to us.
 
At this time, I thought I was going to have a massive overhaul on my availability (again), making me available earlier in the evening. So…I went out on a limb and applied to <Blood Legion>. A day later, they want to interview me! Wow! What an honor. Bad news? The schedule change I was anticipating once again fell through and I had to regretfully withdraw my app. Hopefully, if things ever do change long term, I can reapply with them and see what it’s like to progression raid at that level. I’m confident that I can do it.
 
Finally, I started getting some responses on my LFG thread on the forums. <Eternal Reign> even responded but their raid times don’t work with my dookie schedule. One that caught my eye was a guild called <Late Night Pain Train> on Ysera. Their progression was similar to where I was and they were on a PvE realm. I moved over there last week and I’ve raided with them once to get to 6/7 so the regular comp could continue their attempts.
  
So What Now (Revisited)
 
I haven’t the slightest. I need to see what this guild I’m in can do for my personal goals. Don’t mistake that for selfishness. I’m happy to help a guild progress with its goals too. But we’re all in it for some measure of personal satisfaction too, right? I may stop raiding progression. I may move back to Tichondrius. I may take an “alt run in the mean time” offer from another top 50 guild.
 
Either way, I really want to finish this tier 7/7 heroic.
 
Nasty

Stormwind in my Rearview

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So my time in Adapt of Spirestone has come and gone. That’s a good, bad, and neutral thing all rolled into one. Is that even possible? It was my second guild as a raider and I learned some valuable things about the both the game and myself. So what were some of the things that made the experience what it was? I’m not going to cover the details on any of the negativity that I felt there. Best to just leave that behind. Instead I’ll talk a bit about what I learned on my first trip outside of my WoW comfort zone.

Becoming Alliance

Being a long-time fantasy fiction fan, I can truly appreciate the classic fantasy components that the Alliance had to offer. The architecture, the statues, the storylines..they all seem to really fit into what I grew up on with regard to that genre of fictitious atmospheres. Personally, I prefer Ironforge and Darnassus over any of the other Alliance cities. I think Blizzard really made a counterproductive move by forcing everyone into either Stormwind or Orgrimmar. I believe the statement was something like “we want Azeroth to feel lived in.” Well, it’s still not, really. SW and Org are lived in. Go to Ironforge or Thunder Bluff for instance and you’ll find some leveling toons there on occasion but empty for the most part. In WotLK, I could take the Dalaran portal to ANY of my home cities and always find lots of people there. Sure, there were more in the Capitols, but we weren’t forced there. Isn’t Northrend part of Azeroth anyway?

It just didn’t feel right being an Alliance Shaman. I’ll fess up to my nerdiness and admit that I’ve read the Warcraft books and have enjoyed damn near all of them. Shamanism just seems so Horde in all the lore. Specifically the tribal races of Orc and Troll come to mind. Sure Tauren are tribal but there’s just something about their demeanor and culture that doesn’t say “Shaman” to me. But the Alliance? Shamanism? Throwing a back story in to help justify a class into a faction only works to bring the class into the character selection screen. It reduces the amount of work on the developers when it comes to balancing the differences in exclusivity of Alliance Paladins and Horde Shaman in-game. I get that. However…I didn’t decide to leave based on these points. This was all just my fantasy heritage coming out. 🙂

Progression Raiding

Yep. Had some experience in T11 with my first guild and learned a ton from the Guild Leadership over at Ludicrous Speed. Had a fantastic mentor (left the game for a while and has recently come back) over there too. I’ll assume my first blog entry was read so you know why I left there (scheduling conflicts). Adapt was a perfect fit. Times were right, progression was in line with where LS was as a guild, and the interview went very well. I liked the people I spoke with back in May. I got to progress with them through Heroic Cho’gall and Sinestra fo T11, and went 6/7 H (5/7 pre-nerf) in 25’s for T12. It was an absolute blast and I mean that in every way possible.

It was when Firelands came out that things changed. Things just seemed different, both on my part and that of the leadership. I won’t speak poorly of anyone publicly and I don’t want to place blame on anyone or anything specifically, although I will admit that some of my angst was self-induced. t was just a combination of very small things that reached a sum that i just couldn’t handle anymore. So, I made the decision to leave…a decision that I feel serves everyone best.

What Now?

Well, I followed some former guildmates over to Blackrock (Orgrimmar is just stupid crowded there) and I have a trial position with Something Novel. I just got there last night and they’re working on H Ragnaros so I haven’t raided with them as of yet (they’re 3 healing it….wow!). We’ll see how that goes when I get an opportunity. I’m pretty excited about the chance and at a very petty and fundamental level, I’m glad to be Horde again. Despite my favoritism to Orcs and Trolls for the Shaman class, I went Goblin and I’m using the name “Olegreg.” As Resto, I just couldn’t pass up the free 1% haste racial.

So, another chapter begins for The Nasty Shaman. Wish me luck.