What happens at night in Sethekk Halls….

So, sometimes, Goldslipper has these random experiences that make me giggle, and this morning I had one of them.

As background, last night, I began one more run of Sethekk Halls.  It was getting close to bedtime for the youngest of the kids, so I needed to hurry.  I got to the first boss, had him down, and then got the call “Mommmm!  I need you!”

Okay, I thought.  I’ll go up and tuck him in, and then head back downstairs to the computer and finish.  I told the friend I was chatting with about his new baby that I would be back soon, hopefully.  I really wanted to get back for both reasons, to finish the run AND to oooh and ahhhh over the new-parent experiences of my friend…..a new little baby girl, so sweet 🙂

Can you guess what happened?  I got upstairs, watched a video with my son, became sleepy, and never made it back to the computer.

So, what do YOU think happens at night when you park yourself near the fresh carcass of Darkweaver Syth?   Continue reading

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Nice Tanks

There is nothing like a really nice tank.

This morning I had the opportunity to play with a really great tank, Kharon of Hydraxis. He was the tank for my first random, FoS. After completing the first run, he also tanked for a second run, and then traded out to do dps after a new tank joined us.

What really made Kharon great to play with, is that he not only tanked nicely (or so it seemed to me, although I am hardly capable of judging yet), but he was super patient. Our first group wiped once (I think it was because I got the soul pulled out of me, and someone didn’t stop the dps), and he had to wait while I found my way back, which, if you know Goldslipper, well, it can be a time to /facepalm, she is so directionally challenged.

The second run was especially interesting, full of weird, but fun sort of skill-testers. I am still a bit blurry, as it went so fast and involved so much death and crazy healing and a very serious OOM situation.

At one point, we were trying to rez our poor groupmate, Tempesto, who sadly, got kicked from the group after not being able to make it back to the instance…..I really feel for him, as I could easily have been the one in that spot. Kharon ran me back in, after finding me and guiding me all the way back, and as we were standing there, trying to rez Tempesto, I thought, well, maybe I just need to inch a little bit close, and BOOM, aggro’d one of the enemies.

The fun thing, was that Kharon and I basically two-manned the mob, and it was REALLY FUN!  I got to melee a bit, try some unique spells…..it was really cool!

Then, the new tank arrived (not sure how that happened, because Kharon was originally queued as the tank, and had been since the beginning of the instance, but whatever….) and we got going, and basically 3-manned Branjahm, which was ALSO very fun and exciting.  Nothing gets the adrenalin up like a good fight with less than the normal amount of people. Wow! I was nearly OOM for the last portion of that fight, and had to try and pull out all the stops, even jumping in to melee again.  I wish I had opportunities to practice my skills like that more often, but in an environment where I wouldn’t be risking the death of real players, you know? It is great for the reflexes, but if everyone dies, well, after a while, that gets old.

We made it to the end boss, but the new tank died (massive guilt, as always, on my part), and the realm shutdown was in about 4 minutes, so basically everyone left, and Kharon and I had a few minutes to chat.

I thanked him for being so patient….literally, I think we spent half of the time dead, with me flying around the citadel, trying to find the entrance (think I finally know where to go).

I also commented to him that I thought Hydraxis must be one of the best realms.  I can’t count how many really nice players I’ve met in randoms from that realm. He didn’t seem to think it was anything special, but I wonder if he just doesn’t want to brag?

Have you run into any particularly nice tanks in your randoms?

If one person has to die during your first time healing the Oculus, make sure it is YOU :) (NOTE: please make sure your party-members are safely flying on their drakes before trying this…)

I feel a little bit like Blizzard is throwing new instances at me like Emeril throws spices into a pot of spicy Cajun cooking……..BAM!!

I am not sure if this is strategically planned or not, but in three dailies, I have done THREE COMPLETELY NEW instances. It is almost enough to make a noobish sort of holy pally crumble, frankly. First The Culling of Stratholme, then Halls of Lightning, and last, dun dun dunnnnnnnnn……….The Oculus.

I’d heard about it so many times in trade or other discussions.  No one, and I mean NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON EVER (that I have heard) has said that they really enjoy this instance.  Usually, they said, “Ooooooh, I hate that place.” You also hear the stories about people who drop group instantly upon discovering that The Oculus is their random, leaving others in the lurch.

So, of course, after I was whooshed to my daily, and realized that it was, in fact, “the place that will not be named,” the fear and dread began creeping over me, and I raced to type some sort of friendly greeting/explanation/plea to the rest of the party members, hoping that they would have mercy on me for my performance.

Blizzard, or the gods of gaming, answered my plea with a spike in latency that left the tank pulling the first trash mob, and me unable to type anything OR heal, and a disconnect after a few seconds of frantic, hand-wringing helplessness. As I logged back in faster than I’ve ever logged back in before, I had two simultaneous thoughts. One being that I desperately wanted to get back with the same group, so that I could redeem myself. The second being that, well, possibly, it could be the better thing to not have to see the same group again, given that, if they’d wiped on the first pull, they might be angry enough to throw me to the first boss unaided, and sit back and enjoy buffing snacks while listening to my screams for mercy…..heehee.

It turned out that there was no wipe, phew, and the group just wanted to know if I would be able to go on, or would they need to get another healer.  My latency looked okay, so I said I would give it a try, and we went on.

I understand now, why most people probably do not like this instance. The time and distance spent between mobs/bosses is much longer than average, due to the travel requirements, and I think this messes with people who like to really keep the adrenalin up and the pace going.  For the most part, people I run into want a quick progression, with enough time for recovery, but not much more than that.

Personally, I loved it.

I was totally confused about my whereabouts, of course (kind of like a kid at a birthday party who had been spun around blindfolded to play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey), but I loved that there is something new, other than running, standing, healing and then running again. So, thanks Blizzard. Also, I realize that the three dimensional movement/mounted movement is far more a part of raid content, so I appreciate the opportunity to get a taste of it now, before I do any raiding.

Overall, this instance was really not that difficult to heal.  I think our tank was pretty well geared, so he wasn’t taking much damage, nor were the dps, so it was easy from my standpoint.

The only tricky part after the latency came when I, mounted up to leave the fight where the boss casts the ice block kind of spell, suddenly dropped from the sky onto the platform, dead, a victim of somehow having gotten exposed to the ice block.  Not sure how this really happened, but I suppose I will be able to figure it out in subsequent runs.

Okay, for most players who were raised in the Vanilla, BC and maybe even early Wrath phase, this would be no big deal.  Simply run right back, right?  However, given the fact that I have leveled from 70-79 (yes, I am actually 4 bars away from 80, believe it or not), almost exclusively through LFG dungeon running, I have absolutely NO idea how to get in and out of most Northrend dungeons through the typical front-door entryway. My poor groupmates needed to wait while I struggled to find the “ramp” they were referring to, that would take me to the proper portal for The Oculus, and eventually, one of them had to come and guide me to it, so that I could get to them. Thankfully they were, yet again, patient.  Given the comments about idiots that I see out there in the forums and blogosphere, I realize that I could have (maybe should have?) been completely brutalized in party chat.  Thank you party members whose names I cannot remember and as such, unfortunately, cannot credit specifically with your extreme kindness and generosity, for not brutalizing me.

I am happy to say though, that not a single other person died, or came anywhere near dying during the instance.  In most cases, I hope that I can avoid death, so that I can begin rezzing people quickly so that we may resume, but in this case, I am glad that if someone had to die (even due to stupidity), it was me.

Holy Halls of Lightning, Batman

I absolutely love the architecture of this instance, and look forward to getting back again.  I can’t really recall too much about the group.  It went fairly uneventfully, I think (could have been one wipe in there, given it was my first time, but can’t really recall anything specific).

I do remember that I had a little bit of extra time afterward, and so I walked back through the instance, admiring the architecture and design details.  Whenever I have the opportunity to stroll through a cleared instance, I like to do so, it allows me to really appreciate what I usually don’t get to focus on during the run.  Ceilings, for example, or other architectural details that might be missed while laser-focused on the health bars.

Given how much I love the space created in HoL, I am really excited to see the inside of Ulduar one of these days…….

Cookies and milk with Chromie (or, keep your DK handy for those emergency situations)

Recently, I was so lucky to have two of the main guildies along with me for my random dungeon.

Even though it was a step down for them (both 80’s), they grouped up with me, and we got insta-whooshed (me being a healer) to The Culling of Stratholme.  I had my usual nervous reaction to a brand-new instance, pulse elevated, adrenalin racing, even though I had excellent guides and backup with me.

First off, I love this instance, and can hardly wait to get back, hopefully with the guildies, and spend some time wandering around after it’s cleared, to see the environment.  I also look forward to reading about it.  I love young Arthas, they made him so handsome, but also appropriately snooty; it totally makes sense that he will succumb to evil forces later on.

So, we ate our fish feast, and I did mention to our tank and the mage, who were the only ones not from our guild, that it was my first time in the instance, so if they had any suggestions, it would be appreciated.  Everyone was pretty quiet, overall.  The guildies and I were in vent, so we were chatting through things there, instead of typing much.

We made it through the first boss without too much difficulty, but on the second boss, things started to go south after a bit, and we wiped. Okay, I figured, I’ve had a few days off, it’s totally my fault, I’m rusty and a little sluggish with the heals, so we all run back and get ready for round two.  We start again, with me a little bit too far behind the tank, I was attacked by several of the walking ghouls, and in my effort to move a bit closer to the group, the tank dies, almost instantly.  I commented to my guildies that I think that if I were not being attacked by the zombies, then I might have a better chance of getting the heals out faster, and so we agree on vent that the next time, I will definitely stand with the tank.  We come back again, no one says much at all, which is really surprising (after the first wipe, I’d said “sorrrrry!” presuming it was all my fault), and we proceeded to wipe again, nearly instantly.

At this point, I was feeling like I would like to hide under the table.  I have suspected all along that I am one of the worst healers out there, and it’s just been luck getting me through the NR content as well as I have.  Well, now that we’re at the near-80 stuff, Blizzard must want to show me that I will not survive unless I really bump up my game.  I certainly have more spells I can use, such as Hand of Sacrifice.  I’ve even been able to do most regular healing without casting Avenging Wrath all of the time, so perhaps I’ve gotten lazy, and I need to be pulling out all the stops, heal-wise.  Not to mention, my timing, good grief, and why the heck haven’t I moved Divine Plea over to the right-side action bar, where everything else is for healing?

These and other self-condemning thoughts are going through my head, and I am beginning to note undertones of doubt and concern in my guildies voices…..

The tank is slow running back, and indicates that his/her kids are needing attention, so we wait and prepare to try yet again.  I am, frankly, surprised that no one has voted to kick me from the group, even my own guildies….

When the tank arrivds back, it was then and only then, after THREE FULL WIPES, that my guildie and I had the same idea of inspecting the tank.  Turns out he/she was equipped in mostly non-tank armor AND has less health than me, somewhere in the mid-12k range (I was running in the 14k range, buffed).

New strategy time.  While the designated tank is out getting repairs, it dawned on my that my DK guildie could perhaps serve as tank.  I asked, and he said sure, he could switch over into frost presence and give it a go.  While we never really cleared it in party chat with the rest of the group, we went ahead with that approach the next time through on the boss, and the instance, for the most part, was smooth after that.  I put beacon on my DK guildie, and then healed the “official” tank directly, which worked out pretty well, although that little 12k tank still was on the brink now and then.

This experience taught me so much on many levels.  First, it taught me to be aware of our tank’s armor/hp situation, prior to going into an instance.  Not to judge, but simply to be aware, and know that there might, on some occasions, need to be an alternate strategy in place for getting through the dungeon.  I especially have been helped immensely through so many, I would never want to be one of those “kick them if they’re not properly geared” types, so I would want to work with whomever it was, presuming they were reasonably articulate and friendly.  I think that it is also the beginning of my starting to need to be aware of the other classes and their capabilities, moreso than ever before.  Sure, I know, at a surface level, some of the skills, but really getting to know them will be so useful for the future, particularly as our guild potentially begins to do more difficult content together.

Second, it made me realize that I am so lucky to have a small, but really cooperative group of guildies, who are willing to step back from a situation and re-think things.  If there is any chance that we are going to see end-content, I am sure that this is a must-have sort of quality.  No one threw a fit, swore at anyone or anything. Knowing that this is how they reacted, I feel very excited to take on more challenging content with them, hopefully without anyone blowing a gasket due to stress.

Third, it really made me think hard about what spells I should be using that I wasn’t.  I have almost never used Hand of Sacrifice, and I am sure it will now become a staple of my spells.  Timing will be something I’ll need to work on, as I found that I was hitting it probably too early during the fights, but easily solved with practice.  I also have tools for mitigating threat and protecting targets which I need to work with better.  I had loaded my new set of addons earlier in the day, but hadn’t had enough time to set them up, so I will definitely be working on that, getting things keybound as much as possible, and starting to get used to that.

Last but not least, I got to sit and take this cute screenshot with Chromie after we were all done.  My guildie joined in after, and we had a fun time telling her jokes and flirting with her, enjoying the peace of the now-completed dungeon.  Getting down to her level, it felt like cookies and milk time, or storytime in preschool, and I certainly was ready for a nap, or at least a little rest, after this one.

Karmic Comeuppance?

Did I sound a bit flippant about The Violet Hold?  It DID seem easy to me, and so maybe the gods at Blizzard, all-knowing and all-sensing, figured that I was due for a little bit of a confidence adjustment.

This week, I got it, the second time my random sent me there.

I’d just ported into the instance, and was looking at my bags for the right elixir, when suddenly I realized that the group was in the door, and it was SHUTTING on me! Not familiar enough with the instance to know that I just needed to click on the NPC in the hall, I frantically asked in party chat what had happened???  Someone got back to me that I needed to just talk to the NPC, but not before the tank started taking damage.  Serious damage.  As I clicked on the NPC and he kicked me toward the door with a reproving glare, I watched my tank die.

Thinking that all might be well, I could rez the tank and we could continue to an easy finish, I was hopeful as I was transported inside.  Unfortunately, where they dropped me when I passed through the door, was right on top of an enemy, whom I quickly angered with my presence, setting off, well, you know the scenario…….healer and dps desperately try to stay alive, but eventually everyone ends up dead.  If I weren’t so shaken by the earlier experience, I most likely could have switched over to dps mode, and it could have been fine, but I was just too thrown by the series of preceding events.

As a side note, this kind of situation reminds me of how much I like inexperienced or difficult groups, where the tank is hard to keep alive, or the dps are taking serious damage regularly.  They might be difficult to survive, but BOY, do they help you to develop more reflexive use of less basic skills, such as rapidly switching from heal mode to dps mode, or, perhaps, using some of those myriad of holy spells that are only called for once in a blue moon until (I’m guessing) you’re a serious raider.   I love a challenging group, learned more in one night trying to keep a really weak group (including me) alive in Scholomance than in all the smooth runs I’d ever had with a higher-level guildie running through with little danger.  We never made it through Scholo, the instance timer ran out, lol, but I was a MUCH better healer after that instance.  I have actually considered advertising in trade or the LFG channel for an inexperienced or undergeared tank at my level, so that I could have someone to build skills with….picture that ad “not-so-experienced healer LF mediocre tank…..bad gear and poor aggro maintenance preferred, PST.”

Unfortunately, the rest of the group was under the impression that once you wipe in Violet Hold, there is no way to get back in, and so people left, the group disbanded, and I was left with my ghost, wondering what to do.  I discovered that just like any other instance, you simply head right back to the entrance, and you CAN get back inside.  So, I could have redeemed myself with a decent heal, if folks had stuck around.  I did have enough time to get in a quick “sooooooo sorrrry guys!!!” before folks left the group, so hopefully there aren’t a few players out there harboring ill-will toward Goldslipper for ruining their random that morning.

Gods of Blizzard, wherever you are, all-knowing and all-sensing, your karmic message has been noted, and I’ve been appropriately humbled.

The Violet Hold

The Violet Hold has always sounded mysterious to me.  Like something that would be revealed when I reached a certain level of skill, perhaps with a ritual involving candlelight, Azerothian chant or at least a secret handshake, learned from a remote trainer on a lengthy questline.

Nope.  It’s just a big room with portals for the enemies to enter through, and your group runs from corner to corner, getting each monster as it arrives.

I logged in, oh, maybe Wednesday morning, after freshly re-enchanting and buying up a bunch of elixirs, scrolls and mana potions, wondering if my daily would be in AK, AN or The Nexus.  When I saw the load screen, I knew it was going to be something new, and to be honest, my heart rate went up and my palms began to sweat a bit.    New instances always make me a little nervous, for a variety of reasons.

First, as the healer, I can easily be blamed if the group wipes, and I am NOT a pro at this yet, so it is entirely possible that that would be the case.

Second, since this is my first time through everything, I have no idea where I’m going, and always being at the back of the pack mana’ing up, last to loot, well, it can be easy to lose the guys in the front, or at least I worry about losing them in a place I haven’t been through at least 3 times.  Usually by 3 times, I’m starting to remember the path.

As far as healing it was pretty straightforward, no special spells required (just FoL and a splash of HL now and then), although to ADD to my first time jitters, my Healbot healbars were totally different this time!!!

Because of the patch, I’d decided to actually go update my addons, since I’ve gotten into a group post-patch and had Healbot be non-functional, which isn’t too pretty for me, I need all the help I can get 🙂

The healbars now show health in rounded numbers, like 9K, and then there are some percentages, but frankly, they did not make sense to me that first time through.  At one point, I thought they were the percentage of health remaining, but then they were often very low percentages, and so I wondered if they were the damage percent.  Probably time to head on over to the Healbot website and do a little reading before the next daily.

Healbot confusion aside, though, I’m thinking that maybe the Blizzard folks had me in mind when they threw the Violet Hold in there, a room where all the enemies come to you is perfect for a first-time holy pally who tends to get lost 😛