Written by | Posted November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm A Girl and her Dog

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across […]

Sources, Belief, and Credibility
comment 11 Written by on August 13, 2009 – 1:38 pm

So there has been some “leaked” information from “reliable sources close to the subject” running around the WoW community lately.  Matticus has an excellent post on why it is that sometimes you just can’t name your source – whether that’s because they will lose their job if it gets back to them or because they’ve simply asked you not to squawk.

extra-warmth-by-somadjinn

Heck, I follow the same guidelines here, more or less.  If you email me with a question, and ask me not to mention your name and server – I won’t.  You’ve asked, and your privacy as a gamer is important to me.

Of course, it’s a little different when you’re dealing with news and not Ask Anna’s Advice Column, but hey – the basic premise is the same.

That said, regardless of the ethics of preserving source confidentiality – nobody is /required/ to buy in to what is posted until it is posted with a defined source. Nor is a blogger /required/ to post that information until it can be decidedly sourced.

Now, I know that things are different for those folks that actually try to break the news.  I don’t (and that’s no surprise to those of you that’ve stuck with me for… what, nearly a year and a half now? eesh…) and so I don’t run into this problem very often. If the Warcraft Head Developer were to email me this week and say “Anna, in the next expansion, Paladins are going to have summonable angel pets as their form of raid healing, but you’re not allowed to use my name or credentials at this time” I’d do a tiny little happydance… and shut up about it.  It’s not my blog’s business to break news.

However – it /is/ the business of other sites to break news.

And if they so choose, they have – like every other journalistic source – the right to publish news with unnamed sources.  It’s a standard practice in journalism.

I, as Jane Peon the Site Visitor, have a different right.  And it’s a right I exercise on major world news sources, gaming news sources, craft news sources, and whatever other sites I frequent.  And that is what I call the Right of Disbelief.

The Right of Disbelief doesn’t entitle me to bash, hate on, flame, or otherwise be an asshat to the person that posted the potentially un-believable subject matter. What it entitles me to is simply this – I can choose to say “that’s nice, and I’ll wait to form an opinion on the subject until we have a qualified source close to the subject that’s willing to pony up the accountability for this”.

Why?

Well it’s simple. If the Blizzard lead developer sends me that email about Angel Aoe Pets, and then sometime between now and whatever the heck the next expansion is the entire Dev team shoots that developer down, and the plan changes to giving Paladins little cherub babies as mana regen instead… nobody’s ass is on the line… except mine.  My choosing to report on that (with an anonymous source) only gets MY ass grilled if it’s wrong.

However, if that same developer allows me the privilege of using their name and title, THEIR ass is now on the line as well.  This is why in the early stages of these “releases”, an accredited source is very rare.

And so, I maintain my Right of Disbelief for many many things about WoW.  I don’t freak out about early, leaked Patch Notes, or pre-Blizzcon special “mined” releases. I’ll believe it when I see it.  When, as Matt’s E1-E5 rating would suggest, I have at least an E4, if not an E5 rating on the source.

That doesn’t make a site that is willing to publish E1 information any less valid.  It simply means they’re willing to take the grilling if the source data falls through – a risk I (and my tiny little insignificant website) am not willing to take just yet.

A Few Bits of Business
comment Comments Off Written by on August 13, 2009 – 11:01 am

First – Thank you to everyone that has participated in the gender discussions. It’s been a really insightful bit of reading (and I’m sorry I was mostly afk for all of it, I’ll be going back to several comments in a later post I think – fantastic stuff there) and nearly everyone was civil and thoughtful.  You guys are awesome.

Second (and less awesome) is that I’m… more or less jobless at the moment. I’m still waiting on the last bit of info about it, but I’m full time in the job search now. It’s not a horrible situation, but it will put a kink in things. 

Third – I’m having a bit of technical difficulty with a few parts of the site lately. Apologies! I’m working on figuring out why random things are disappearing when the code for them is still intact and unchanged. Hopefully I’ll have things back to normal later today – fortunately the actual site function and layout aren’t affected!

XX and XY in RP
comment 47 Written by on August 11, 2009 – 10:31 am

So I occasionally get to talk to fun people about RP because I write this blog.  Some of them also write blogs too, which is double awesome.  Yesterday was one of those occasions, and I was talking to Badger, who mentioned that he was finally getting to where he felt comfortable RPing female characters.  (Badger apologizes for the technical difficulties on his site right now, but I wanted to provide a link anyway!)

If you check out my character list, you’ll notice that all of them are female.

I am, in fact, female, in real life (OMG A GIRL ON THE INTERNET). And though I have several male characters rattling around in my head, I’ve never been able to RP one convincingly enough for my own satisfaction.  This is, of course, my own personal failing, but it did start off an interesting conversation.

You see, at this point, Badger replied:

“It’s odd, isn’t it, that playing something like a Troll or a Night Elf is second nature, but playing a Generic Dude is hard”

He’s right, of course – it can be hard for some of us to RP as members of the opposite sex (though fortunately not all of us have this trouble!).  But it got me to thinking.

And I think what makes this hard is that “gender” is a preconceived idea that exists outside of game.

Whether or not “gender” is correct, biological, chosen, culturally shaped, or whatever, gender exists in the real world. Night Elves, however, do not.

Night Elven culture is defined only by a loose set of history and ideas we call “Lore” and which can change at any time. Even the human cultures, in game, are mishmashes of real cultures and fictional ideas, things we can “assume” with little trouble.  It’s easy to pretend to be a Troll, because there are only a very few things that define what a “Troll” is – and those things are very flexible.  Lore is, after all, a set of guidelines and frameworks within which we create our characters – and those guidelines can change any time, given the whims of one Chris Metzen and the lore team.

Real life gender may still only be a culturally defined set of guidelines (and I say culturally defined since gender stereotypes change radically across the world stage) – but they’re things we deal with on an every day basis. And we are, in a sense, programmed to have those identities and expectations (and, unfortunately, to look poorly upon those who don’t comply with our pre-existing gender ideas).

If you look at the backlash received by people that do not fit into the gender they appear to have, or do not fit into any easily identified gender at all, you can see where this problem lies.  Our culture – particularly in the “Western World” expects male humans to fit into one pattern and female humans to fit into another.  In the absence of defined gender roles in game, we then transport those assumptions wholecloth (more or less) into Azeroth – along with all of the nastiness that comes when our preconceived ideas are challenged or questioned.

And of course, this doesn’t even begin to look at the gender equality, patriarchal monarchies, magic ruled societies, and how “gender” ends up getting expressed as a game mechanic.

So why is it that one is easier than the other (at least for me)? What makes assuming one thing less hard than assuming another?

It comes down to playing pretend.

Night elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs – they are pretend.  Fiction. Imaginary ideas of cultures in which we can all play imagination together, and even if those imaginary ideas are similar to other imaginary ideas in other stories and games, they’re still in the realm of pretend.  I can take on the role of a Troll, and fit it into a character concept, because what I make “Troll” out to be is just as right (as long as it’s within the framework) as anything else.

Gender, on the other hand, is something that comes from outside of game, so it comes with a lot of excess “baggage” – baggage that, for me, makes it more difficult to be satisfied with RPing male characters than I can be with the various female characters I’m already working on.

So what about you guys – do you RP across the so-called gender lines?  Pick one and stick to it? And what about playing a female to male or male to female gender swap using the Blizzard account modification transmogrifier?

3.2, Mana Regen, and You (the Paladin)
comment 11 Written by on August 10, 2009 – 9:48 am

So we knew it was coming.  We talked about specs, about regearing, about what it would mean.

And then it came.  And it didn’t pull any punches.

3.2 is here, and the Paladin regen nerfs are live, and they’re… kinda nasty.  Some of the changes are nice – though I /still/ don’t find Beacon of Light to be a good “group healing” spell.  I do, however, find the 60 yard radius to be the best change on it BY FAR, since it allows me to ping off both tanks as needed, especially since I run with another Holy Paladin (Hi Pry!) in our 25 man, so we can each beacon a tank and then support each other.

The Sacred Shield/FoL heal over time is… well… a clusterfuck of stupid. But that’s another post, since I’d like to address the mana changes specifically here today – not just what they are, but what you can do about it.

The Ol’ Mana Pool She’ Ain’t What She Used To Be
(you can all sing along now, and you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head)

The Changes:

  1. Replenishment is diminished
  2. Your overall mana pool is diminished by 5% due to Divine Intellect talent changes
  3. Your regen from Illumination is diminished by half (60% return to 30% return)
  4. Your mp/5 totals are up 25% from “small” to “not quite as small as they were”.  This “buff” is an itemization change, not a change to your regen.

In short, you have less mana, you have less regen, and replenishment (though diminished) is even more important.  Intellect is still your primary stat, since that’s still where Replenishment and Divine Plea derive their regen from, but the days of stacking gobs of crit are likely gone, since 30% return is, quite honestly, piddly and ridiculous.

Over the last week of raiding, I’ve received the majority of my regen from Divine Plea and Replenishment – Illumination is less than half the regen of EITHER of those, and mp/5 is half of what Illumination returns.

This means any healing done without replenishment is… verging on not being feasible, and that 10 man healing (in general) is even more rough on your longevity than it used to be. 25 man healing was less scary, but fights that require lots of burst healing were particularly bad (XT Heartbreaker, Hodir, Mimiron, Northrend Beasts)

What you can do about it:

  • Lay off the Holy Lights. Changing my cast frequency on Holy Light vs. Flash of Light from 1:1 to 1:2 helped a lot. The beacon change (which allows total healing and not just effective healing) helps with this as well.  However, be aware that you can NOT cast Flash of Light constantly and expect either to keep your tank up or to not run out of mana.  Things are so reduced that even FoL spam will put you OOM now – with the added bonus of tank death to go with it.
  • If you’re using a 51/17 +3 spec rather than a 51/5/15 or 51/0/20 spec, only use Holy Shock when you absolutely have to.  The crits won’t return as much mana, it won’t crit as often anyway, and it will be hugely more expensive than you’re used to.  With the bubble spec, this spell is for emergencies, not for regular healing rotations anymore.
  • Divine Illumination is your friend.  Use it often. I’ve got Power Auras to tell me when it’s off cooldown now, just so that I remember to use it as frequently as I can.  (Divine Illumination – 40 points in Holy Tree)
  • Remember Divine Plea. Use it often. I’m using it on almost every cooldown, with an attempt to coordinate it with Greatness procs (Darkmoon Card: Greatness is still That Good.  Really.  You should get one) and Avenging Wrath. If things are looking bad and you still need the Divine Plea, and Avenging Wrath is on cooldown, remember you can use Hand of Sacrifice to reduce incoming damage while your healing is decreased (though you may want to bubble yourself, or Beacon the tank and heal yourself through it).
  • Try Potions of Nightmares instead of the usual Mana Potions.  Many of the worst fights are designed with breaks between phases, bosses, or sections where you can take 6 seconds out of the fight to drink a Nightmare Potion.  They return more mana, though they still do consume your potion cooldown for the fight.  Using one in coordination with Divine Plea is even better. (Potion of Nightmares)
  • Flasks of Pure Mojo are not going to kill your throughput.  I’ve been swapping back and forth between these and Frostwyrm Flasks (Aely is an Alchemist, so I can do this). Give it a try, it can help.
  • Glyph of Divinity is your friend.  Use it often – and treat it as much like a free mana potion (that you can use once per fight most of the time) as you would like a tank-saving maneuver. I coordinate my Lay on Hands with other healers, to the point where if one of them is really at low mana, I’ll have them stand in fire for a tick to let LoH hit, and enjoy both of us getting a little extra mana. It’s not ideal, but it works.
  • Innervates are now on a 3 minute cooldown and are not Spirit based. This requires a Druid that’s paying attention and doesn’t have to use the Innervates themself all the time (moonkins), but when the boss still has 20% health left, you’ve blown every other cooldown you have, and you’re breathing fumes at the bottom of your  mana pool, this is definitely a good option.

None of this will bring your mana back to what we were used to – and in a lot of cases, these are last ditch measures. There are fights now where my tank is living Divine Plea to Divine Plea, with a bit of luck and judicious uses of Hand of Sacrifice to make up for my lack of healing while using it.

Is it fun?  Well, not really.  Sometimes it’s nice to be forced into this kind of creativity, but a lot of the really rough fights aren’t forgiving enough for me to WANT to be creative.  I just want to heal my tank and be done with it, thanks.

But unless things get changed back again (which I doubt, since the majority of this is PVP related, and (historically) complaints /against/ paladins tend to get a lot more attention than complaints /by/ paladins), this is what we all have to get used to.

So bust out the creative braincells – whether we have the mana or not, the tanks are still getting pounded, so we’ve gotta manage it somehow!

Very First Impressions

November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am

So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …

A Girl and her Dog

November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …

Counting down to Warlords

November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm

What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …

Elevation

October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

Introducing the Newest Anna

June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm

So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …

Deconstruction

November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

Patrol

November 13, 2013 – 9:59 am

The cathedral bells stop ringing overnight, except for chiming the hours. Three bell strikes, and Angoleth padded softly around another corner of the Cathedral District, staying carefully in the shadows. Trained ears picked up Mogget’s soft breathing – nearly inaudible …

Riders in Lordaeron – Memory

November 7, 2013 – 1:33 pm

(Written by Jolly, Tarquin, and Annalea)

The highlands of Lordaeron were not for the faint of heart; be it the putrescence of the Scourge’s long-lingering remnant, or the rock-strewn hills and valleys that made farmers out of only the most …

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