Saturday 31 July 2010

Guest Post: Healing with Vudho

Today's post is a special guest post from Qieth from Qieth's Quips. I've written a guest post for his blog too, so go check it out!

Out of all the druid specs, restoration is probably my least favorite. It is not something that I would willingly spec into. Some people like healing, some people like tanking, some like to DPS. And it is very clear that I don't really like healing.

But alas, there came a time when my guild master causiously approached me. He knew about my reservations towards restoration, of course, for I had made sure everyone did. We had a talk regarding "if I could find a suitable offspec, because we didn't really need any feral offspecs" and I had to agree with the fact that, "Yes, once in a while another resto druid would be useful". So after making him swear on his son, signed on a contract with his own blood, that I would only have to do occasional healing, I took it upon me to learn how to heal.

And here's the thing. DPS'ing can be difficult, my any means. You need to know what to do. Being a moonkin is not the hardest spec to play, but it is certainly not the easiest. It does not compare - at all - to the difficulty of playing any healer class. And I am never one to do something half. I cannot accept being "alright". Good enough is not good enough.

After reading up on restoration, and gathering gear more fitting for the spec, I still felt that there was something missing. My grid, despite its ability to show little marks if my target had a HOT on it, didn't quite seem to cut it. It certainly didn't give me the control and overview that I needed to do my job. So I set out to find an addon that did. That addon is called Vuhdo.

Vuhdo is a raid frame made specifically for healers. Sure, DPS classes can use it as well, and I have grown quite fond of it, but it really shines in the hands of a healer. Vuhdo looks and works like many other raid frames. You have your 10-25 members. You see their health, mana and who has aggro. You can see incoming heals - I guess this is all pretty much standard.

But it is the amount of control that you get with Vuhdo that I really enjoy. Vuhdo lets you easely bind your spells to your mouse buttons, and have them act like a mouseover macro. You could have rejuvination on left click, wild growth on right click, and regrowth, nourish, life bloom, swiftmend and healing touch, as well as any other ability for that matter, on whatever mouse button or keyboard button you want. Now, you could probably get much of the same functionality if you combine Grid with Clique, and there are probably many other addons that can do this as well, but this is a build in functionality of Vuhdo.

I can target someone and heal them normally, or I can use my mouse buttons to throw any sort of spell without ever touching my keyboard, and without ever losing my real target. That is always nice. This is very easy to set up, and it offers a lot of customization. Heck, I can even set it to only do this when I am in my restoration spec, and give a different functionality when I am specced for balance. Maybe - when I am balance - I would rather have that my right clicks on the raid frame threw out an innervate, and left click was for combat resses. All of this can be customized depending on spec, button and your personal preferences.

For restoration druids, it is important that we know the status of our HOTs. Vuhdo is an expert in showing this, as it will give us little indicators for each of our HOTs. A red mark at the side shows my regrowth. A blue mark tells me that the target has a rejuvination on it. A yellow mark at the top shows the status of lifeblooms, and even how many of them that are on the target - it turns green when I have stacked lifebloom to three. And when these HOTs are about to run out, I will get a little timer inside of them, telling me excactly when this HOT will fall off.

Vuhdo has a lot of options, but it generally works "out of the box" with little need to change and correct. But it is when you get down and dirty that you can really have a lot of fun. One of the most awesome features I have found - especially when playing a healer - is the indication of raid buffs and debuff. Any raid buff or debuff. I could, for example, set it to show any PW:Shields on any target in the raid, with the actual buff icon, and also with a little timer. Or I could have it show stacks of Unstable Magic during Sindragosa, or Vile Gas from Rotface. I can see other peoples heals, my innervates, other peoples innervates or maybe use it to coordinate my wild growth with that of other restoration druids.

It is truly an amazingly fun addon to use. It gives me a lot of control, it gives me a great overview, and it does what it has to do - and so much more. Grid might work for you. Or maybe you're using nUI. Pitbull? The standard interface? Whatever your current favorite is, I urge you to try out Vuhdo, give it a spin for a few raids, try out the many functionalities. It is truly the epiphany of raid frames for healing.

Download Vuhdo here!

Friday 30 July 2010


If you'd like to read about how Leesah came by the cute lil Max, head over to Kiss My Alas!

Thursday 29 July 2010

Progress Post: Explorer

Time for an update.

Leesah, my Druid and my main, has been getting more chances to raid lately. We have been splitting our two raiding nights between pushing to use extended IDs to get some progression done, and running the "second" team (mostly made up of alts) in order to get a few more people geared up in case we need them for the main team, and to let more people have a go in guild runs.

With the 30% buff in place we took down Putricide for the first time, and the previous week to that got our first BQL kill as well so we're 10/12 with one solid night put in on Sindragosa.  Personally, I think we should just keep one raid ID locked to Sindy until we get her down, but being a casual guild means that the second gear-up run must get a go.  It's mildly frustrating but.. that's the way it works. Most people in the team are determined to get LK down before Cataclysm, but they are also committed to not leaving anyone who wants to raid out of the action. Unfortunately I'm not sure we're going to be able to have it both ways.

Aefa, my Mage and "main alt" has been benefiting from the extra badges gained through the alt runs in ICC, and has also been going along to some 25-man pugs. She has dreadful loot-luck, but is still having great fun pew-pewing as frost.

In her spare time, she has been exploring the nooks and crannies of Azeroth. I had done some of the exploring while doing the Flame Keeper run during the Midsummer Fire Festival, so it was just a matter of running around and clearing up the remaining zones. She enjoyed seeing the sights of the world and now has an amazing holiday snap collection - expect to see some of that soon!  But for now, she's back to the front lines in Northrend.

Balindah, my Shaman, is almost seasoned enough to be heading to Northrend herself. She has been delayed in Outland the last week or so trying to get her Mining and Jewelcrafting skills up to a respectable level before presenting herself to the Masters in Borean Tundra.

I'm finding that Enhancement is awesome for questing, but ye gods, melee is hard work in instances isn't it! At some stage I'll buy her a second spec and try her hand at healing.

In real life, I've been busy and unwell at the same time, so the blogging has suffered - I'm sorry about that.  There's just not that much to talk about except for the Cataclysm Beta, which I'm not involved in, and Starcraft 2 which I probably won't get because I'm rubbish at rts games!

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Mushroom Ring

Click the image for a 1600 by 900px wallpaper image.

Zangarmarsh, ahh Zangarmarsh.  Why have you no brownies to dance around your mushroom rings?

Want to see more pretty pictures? Visit R&R's Gallery Page.

Monday 26 July 2010

On Dragons

Last night my guild had our first look at Ruby Sanctum 10-man. What a pretty place! It'll be nicer to spend hours in than the Obsidian Sanctum, anyway.

We got through the trash and minibosses with no problems after studying all the strats, but as we were discussing the main event, I got a bit annoyed about people who kept referring to Halion as "she".

Now, call me crazy, but there are definitely male dragons, aren't there?

When I mentioned this on Twitter today, Qieth said "The rule is No wang, not a man... Halion is a lesbian, clearly, and a very manly one."

While Halion is quite a girly pink, he does speak (well, shouts mostly) like a man, and the quest to defeat him, [The Twilight Destroyer], asks you to destroy him.

Now, on the wang thing - I would consider dragons to be pretty close to crocodiles in terms of anatomy. Crocodile wangs are inverted or retracted inside their bodies, and are only visible when they're, er... excited. So how do you know Halion doesn't have one?  Unless you have been poking about in his nether regions, you wouldn't!  No wonder dragons have that tail swipe.

And what about Malygos?  He was a bloke, he definitely sounded like one, and he had Saragosa and then Keristraza as his consorts, both lady dragons.

Back me up here, people.  Halion's a man, isn't he? Or are "he" and Malygos lesbian dragons?

Friday 23 July 2010

Reader Roundup - July

I haven't done a link-love post for a while so the stars were stacking up in my reader! Here's a few of them.
  • Jaedia posted about the way that the LFD tool is not encouraging players to make new friends in the game. Specifically, she says that if LFD had been there all along, she would never have met her current partner. It's kind of sad when you think about all those new on-server friendships we could be missing out on.

  • Gazimoff is gauging interest for a Mage community website. If you play a mage, head over to Mana Obscura and let him know whether you'd be interested in visiting or taking part in it.

  • Ava over at Tales of a Priest has written a very thorough Reflection on Raiding in Wrath, where she covers the good, the bad and the ugly in relation to progression, buffs, heroics and gating. I haven't been in the forefront of raiding in this expansion but I do have to say I found it a bit sad that I restarted raiding after the world was done with Ulduar, so I've never really got to see it.

  • Reversion on Looking For More wrote a really interesting two-part post about improving your Situational Awareness. Part 1 is about learning to use your mouse to move around, and Part 2 is about helping your brain to be more aware.

  • I know, it's silly of me to link this particular post after all other awesomeness on Righteous Orbs, but Tamarind shared with us some of the Worst Dressed NPCs, and I thought it was hilarious.

  • Way back during the RealID wars, Jong posted this internal memo from Michael Morheim that made me giggle.

  • And finally, if you're looking for a good tale, have a peek at She Can't DPS, a RP-focused blog I recently discovered. Amazing writing and screenshots!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Sindragosa's Lair

It's time for a story.  This one is about my guild's efforts in ICC this week!  I hope you enjoy it.


Leesah winced as she splashed the icy water on her face and rubbed vigorously. The group had a brief respite at Light's Hammer before the next attempt at the Spire of Icecrown Citadel.

The assault had had a few days of successes recently. Leesah hadn't been with the company who had taken the Blood Queen down and saved the green dragon, Dreamwalker, but she had made sure she had been front in line when it was time to assault that rotten Professor's lair again.

She was idly wondering how she was going to get the green gunk out of her hair, when the call came up to be armed and ready to move. "Here we go again," she muttered to herself as she quickly gathered her dagger and trinkets and joined her company near the teleporter as they went about renewing their blessings and spells on each other.

They teleported up to the Upper Spire and gathered together, shivering in the cold wind that constantly whipped around the frozen core of the Citadel. Their captain explained that an opening had been found beyond the room Dreamwalker had been in, and they had been ordered to check it out to see if there was a way up to the Frozen Throne from there.

As a group, they ran around the edge of the long drop in the centre of the Citadel and up the hallway towards Dreamwalker's room. On the far side, there was indeed another hallway and an elevator leading down to yet another hallway ending in a round room with a barred door on the opposite side. The group cautiously moved forward, until someone said, "Ugh, spiderwebs".

Leesah looked around at the walls. There were cobwebs reaching almost from the floor, all the way up into the shadows at the ceiling. Something was moving up there. She suppressed a shudder and moved closer to the group, drawing the nature magic to her to help her transform into her Moonkin form. She shook out her feathers and felt a little more calm, but not for long.

Someone yelped in terror as suddenly, a large spider descended from the ceiling on a long tendril of thick silk. Leesah glanced around the room in fright as other creatures started scuttling out of dark corners.

"Stick together!" the captain yelled as the group started to fire spells or swing their weapons at whatever was in reach. Leesah pulled herself together and called down the power of the stars, then summoned a hurricane in the room, thunderclaps rolling off the walls. Spells flashed around the room and still spiders of all sizes came, hurling themselves into the fray.

Someone shouted, "The door's open!", just as a large group of Vrykul warriors came running in to join the defense. Leesah renewed her summoned Hurricane and gradually the Vrykul and spiders fell, and the group were through the door, finding themselves on the outside of the Citadel, facing two enormous frostwyrms.

A freezing wind whipped up from the frozen mountains and chilled Leesah to her bones, as the weary company rested for a moment for a bite of strudel.

"Alright, I'm going to see if I can get the attention of just one of them," said the captain, hefting her mace and moving forward slowly. "Stay back!"

She tossed a spell at one of the dragons and it roared in anger, charging towards the captain and the group. Leesah held her breath until it was clear that the other dragon hadn't noticed, then gathered in her nature energy and started hurling spells at the frostwyrm attacking the group.

Just as it seemed they were getting the upper hand, the dragon reared back and let out an enormous bellowing roar. The group scattered in blind panic, and the other frostwyrm turned at the sound, roared in response and rushed to join the battle.

Leesah could feel her energy fading as she frantically threw spell after spell at the dragons, dodging out of the way of their tails and flailing wings, but she drew on ever power she could muster and soon, with a great scream, each of the dragons fell.

The company stood by the corpses of the frostwyrms, panting.

Above them, there came a mighty screech and the sound of air being forced aside by massive wings.

The captain shouted "It's the Queen! Fall back to the stairs!"

Leesah's eyes widened in awe and terror as Sindragosa descended to the platform in front of them. The gigantic frostwyrm had seen them, and screamed in a crazed voice, "You are fools to have come to this place! The icy winds of Northrend will consume your souls!"


Monday 19 July 2010

Introducing R&R Resources

Things have been a little quiet around here lately as I've been very busy with that other game called Real Life that some other bloggers have been talking about. Some exciting things have been going on there, too, but y'know, this is a WoW blog ;)

If you read this blog through a reader, you may not have noticed that I have been quite busy gathering some Balance and Resto Druid information into a new page:  the R&R Resources page.  You can find a link to it along the menu bar under the blog title.

In that page I've linked my existing Resto and Balance cheat sheets, and also compiled the fresh 80 gear lists into pages as well - one each for Resto and Balance.

You'll also find my profession charts, power auras information and also a shiny new Macros page which not only lists a few macros but also shows how to make one, and also how to make a macro work with Clique.

I've linked a few other blogs around the place that I find particularly useful, but if you know of a Resto or Balance druid resource that you think I've missed, please suggest it!

I plan to update the Resources page with new things so check back from time to time.  I hope you find something useful there.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Don't Go into the Light

Click the image for a 1600 by 900px wallpaper image.

There's a strange light over the mountain near the Argent Vanguard...

Want to see more pretty pictures? Visit R&R's Gallery Page.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Resto in the Seventies

No, this post isn't about bad hair and bell-bottoms (although Druids are pretty good at flower-power).

The new Cataclysm Beta build today brought with it the new 31-point talent trees, and they've already been posted up on MMO-Champion *Caution - Spoilers*. Since I'm not involved in Beta testing, I'm going to leave it to the experts like Lissanna at Restokin - check out her comprehensive coverage of the Beta changes, if you like spoilers.

But back to the live game.  There are likely to be at least two months before Cataclysm is released - probably more. In that time, there will be new or long-neglected alts being played, including Druids.

I know this because I recently received an email from a Druid called Avawynn:
I am now a level 71 Night Elf Druid with duel spec, Feral/Restro. I haven't played in a few months and now that I am back I feel lost?? I want to get back into the mode of healer, but I can't remember what is efficient and how I should go about healing again in dungeons. I have my tree of life form and I have my restoration spec filled out with all the necessary talents. Please help me :) I need my confidence restored. 
I have already replied to Avawynn (I love getting emails!) but I figure that during this lull before Cataclysm, there are some new Druid healers coming up through the seventies who might find a primer useful. So here we go.

Let's start with the basics. I'll assume that you either have Restoration as your main spec, or you have dual specs of which one is Resto, like Avawynn.

Your talent tree at level 70 might look something like this: 10/0/51 or it might look slightly different - either way I'll assume you have enough points in Restoration to take Tree of Life and Wild Growth or are very close to it.

Another option is if you are using the Glyph of Healing Touch to give yourself a fast heal before you learn Nourish at level 80. You could re-distribute the points to boost Healing Touch like this: 10/0/51.

At level 70 we have two major glyph slots available. The most useful glyphs for Resto at this stage are most likely [Glyph of Swiftmend] and [Glyph of Regrowth], unless you are boosting Healing Touch as mentioned above - then the Regrowth glyph can be replaced with [Glyph of Healing Touch].

In the early 70s healing can be difficult. You may get tanks who don't have all their tanking abilities yet, and who are possibly new to tanking. This means you are more likely to get damage all around the party as dps pull aggro or extra mobs that the tank isn't ready for.

Generally speaking:
  • Keep Rejuvenation on the tank at all times. Don't clip the last tick.
  • Top up with Regrowth when required
  • Swiftmend if you need a big boost on a HoT-ed target
  • Wild Growth if the whole party is taking damage. Wild Growth can be tricky if your party is spread out a lot - see if you can work out who to cast it on so that it hits as many people as it can in its radius of 15 yards. 
  • Remember to heal yourself too!

At level 80, you will learn Nourish, which is our "flash-heal" spell. As I mentioned already, before level 80 you could try using Healing Touch with the Glyph of Healing Touch, which drops the cast speed and mana cost. This makes it a faster heal than Regrowth, but you don't get the HoT component. At level 80 the Glyph would be replaced by something else and you would start using Nourish as your "flash heal" type spell instead.

I personally don't use Lifebloom at all these days, except in very situational encounters - I think Rejuvenation is a more mana-efficient HoT to be using, even with the mana return.  Other druids may disagree, so make sure you experiment with different things to see what works best for you.

I think the best advice I could give is: Don't Panic!  Tranquility makes a great panic button, but it will eat your mana so use it sparingly.

Don't forget to Innervate yourself before you actually run out of mana if you can.

As you quest and dungeon your way to level 80, try to pick up Spellpower/Haste gear rather than Spellpower/Crit gear if you can. Generally the more haste you have, the more heals you can get out there. There's nothing to stop you wearing cloth gear in your healing set :)

I'm planning another post containing a guide to some of the dungeon and quest gear that's available along the way.

Healing in stressful situations is so much easier if you have raidframes + clickbind addons. Some suggestions are:

In Conclusion
If you're reading blogs then there's a good chance you're most of the way towards being a great healer :) Just relax, keep the tank and yourself alive and you've done your job. Practice makes perfect so keep healing! You can give yourself a branchy pat on the back of your trunk now :)

Further Reading

Monday 12 July 2010


This weekend I finally had the opportunity to complete the quest chain that I think every druid should do at some stage - the chain to achieve [Swift Flight Form].

Back in early Burning Crusade times, Druids had to complete this quest chain in order to get their Swift Flight Form. Sometime during BC it was made available to learn from a Druid trainer at level 70, removing the need to do the chain at all. When achievements were introduced, completing the chain was rewarded with a Feat of Strength.

I managed to save up the gold for Leesah's Artisan Riding (I already bought it for my mage a little while ago, /guilt), and rather than head to the trainer to learn Swift Flight Form, I decided to do the quest line.

Incidentally, I just discovered before publishing this post that if I had trained Artisan Flying at Thrallmar or in Warsong Hold, I would have got a reputation discount for being Revered with Orgrimmar, bringing it down to 4250g, rather than the 5000g I paid. Apparently this goes for Alliance players with Stormwind rep - train at Honor Hold or Valiance Keep.  So a tip for young players:  Don't train flying skill in Dalaran!

You must have Artisan Riding before you can get the first quest. The chain starts at any Druid trainer, with the trainer sending you to Cenarion Refuge in Zangarmarsh to speak to Morthis Whisperwing.

I'm not going to give any of the story away but it involves travel all over the mid-level areas of Outlands and other areas such as Moonglade. It contains some epic Druid lore and a great storyline.

The chain culminates in summoning the Raven Lord, Anzu from the Emerald Dream, then killing him.  Anzu is an optional boss in Sethekk Halls, who can only be summoned on Heroic mode and with a Druid in the party who has the Essence-Infused Moonstone.

To get into Heroic Sethekk Halls, you must have honoured reputation with Lower City so that you can buy the key. If you're a BC druid you probably already have it, but it took me a while to solo normal Sethekk Halls a few times until I was honoured.

Once I had the heroic key, I invited a few guildies to come along, and we made short work of Anzu. He is summoned from the room just before the final boss. I remember doing this fight once for a guildy way back during BC - we didn't have any decent aoe classes with us at the time (this is before the days of Mind Sear when Spriests were kind of useless against groups) so I remember wiping horribly on the birds that spawn during the fight.

I believe it can be solo'd at level 80 these days.  I may try sometime just for a laugh, but as a Moonkin I'm not that great at taking the hits. It's not hard to find people to join in though, as there is a chance the mount might drop - [Reins of the Raven Lord] - one of the prettiest land mounts available!

Saturday 10 July 2010

Shared Topic: Heal priorities

This week's Blog Azeroth shared topic was suggested by Ecclesiastical Discipline:
Where do you draw the line on shifting the priority of someone's heals down (or refusing to heal them all together)? Is it if they upset you personally? If they are consistently standing in the fire? If they have lame dps? If they aren't managing their aggro? If they go afk for fifteen minutes in the middle of a boss fight? Is it only when it's jeopardizing the entire group's success? I believe there is a point for every healer, but where does the gray area fall? Does anyone really heal the jerk who is offensive and stands in fire when there is anyone else who needs healing?
In general, I'm a calm and reasonable player. I wasn't always like that - when I first started raiding I was one of those people who would get extremely frustrated every wipe, although I never told anyone off for being crap (out loud, anyway). Nowadays, people who rage in raids make me giggle.

When healing, I do always try to keep everyone alive, even if they are being a complete idiot. I think it's just an automatic reaction to the health bars dropping.

There are a few situations, however, where I feel it's alright to let someone die.

1. Everyone is taking damage.
In this situation, keeping the tank (or my heal assignment) and myself alive is the priority.  I will throw Wild Growth out when it's available, but my casts are going into the tank if heavy damage is going on.

2. If a dps and I are taking damage.
I often forget this until it's too late, but as a healer taking damage, your priority should be yourself. If you're not alive, no-one gets any healing! Unless of course you have one of those very situationally-aware hybrids in your group who can pop a few off-heals to get you through.

3. If dps pulls aggro.
This really depends on whether they are melee or ranged. Melee - not much you can do, they are often dead before you can get a heal off, especially in a raid situation. With ranged dps you can sometimes heal them through it until they can use Iceblock/Fade/Feign Death, or until the tank can taunt. Sometimes, not.  I never feel too bad about letting them die, just as if I pull when I'm dps, I don't blame the healers for my death.

4. If the damage is coming in so fast, there's no time to get a heal in.
Sometimes you can tell that someone is taking damage so fast, there's no time to get a cast in to save them. This may actually come at the same time as point number 3. For this situation, I have a "holy shit" macro that combines Nature's Swiftness with Healing Touch. I usually save this for tanks who are getting low on health, but it is great for saving dps if you can get in quick enough. (I really should macro in the "/y oh shit oh shit!" part a la Gnomeaggedon)

There is one situation when I will purposely not heal to prove a point.

5. When someone else other than the tank purposely pulls.
This really annoys me. I will usually warn whoever it is, usually a hunter misdirecting or a DK yoinking mobs in - the next time you pull before the tank, I'm not healing you.  They generally get the picture.  A few accuse me of being grumpy or whatever. Pulling and generally setting the pace is the tank's job in my opinion, since they're the ones getting hit (usually). Stfu, and let them do their job.

The nice thing about Druids, of course, is that we have our combat resurrection - Rebirth. With a macro for Nature's Swiftness, it's instant cast.  If you do lose someone and if it's safe to do so, it doesn't take much to get them back up again while the fight's still on.  Just make sure you heal them like crazy once they accept the res, or you might lose them again.
#showtooltip Rebirth
/cast Nature's Swiftness
/stopmacro [nohelp,nodead]
/run c="Resurrecting %t"if UnitInRaid("player")then SendChatMessage(c, "RAID")elseif GetNumPartyMembers()>0 then SendChatMessage(c, "PARTY")end
/cast Rebirth
Find more macro info on my new shiny Macro page!

Friday 9 July 2010

Dreaded Dungeons

I wrote a post for Tarinae while she was busy being busy this week.  Go and have a look-see :)

Thursday 8 July 2010

A Fairy Story about Real Names

"Come along children, I'll tell you a story." Matron Mercy said as she led one of the tiny blood elf orphans over to the reading area.

The children gathered around, sitting on cushions strewn around the floor, and madam sat down on a chair and settled herself.

One of the children piped up. "Tell us about that scary dragon Onyxia!"

"No no, " another tiny child said, "the one about the nasty baddies in the Icecream City!"

"Now now, perhaps another time," Matron said, smiling.  "Today I have a special story to tell you. It's about Picksies."

One of the older Draenei boys snorted, saying "Picksies?  Everyone knows they don't exist."

Matron shook her head seriously. "Oh no, they're quite real.  They're probably hiding all around us as we speak."

A few of the children looked around nervously and one of the tiny girls climbed into Matron's lap.

"Picksies love to play tricks on people. Did you ever think you saw something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turned to look, there was nothing there? Picksies!" Matron said, looking around at the wide-eyed children.

"Did you ever lose something that you are sure was in its place, look everywhere for it, and then the next day it was back in its right place again? "

The little girl in her lap looked up in wonder. "Picksies?" she said. Matron nodded and continued.

"Picksies are very devious and they love to cause mischief.  They can change form to look like a person, and cause tricks that way too. The only way to stop a picksie from playing a trick on you, is asking it to stop using its Real Name. If you know something or someone's Real Name, you have power over it and it must do whatever you ask it to."

One of the boys said in a cheeky voice, "Does that work with real people too?" as he eyed the group of girls sitting nearby.  One of them poked her tongue at him and looked away pointedly.

Matron chuckled. "It does work for people too, Halvaar, if you know their Real Name."

Halvaar looked crestfallen. "You just said my name though.  Does that mean I have to do what you say?"

Matron laughed again "No!  Well yes, you do have to do as I say, but not because of the name.  You see, Halvaar is what people call you, but it's not your Real Name.  Most people, in fact nearly all people of Azeroth and Draenor don't know what their Real Name is. It's a special other name that belongs only to you. If you ever find out what your Real Name is, though, you must not tell another soul what it is."

A small Blood Elf girl said "Why not?"

"Haven't you been listening to me, Amie? If a picksie finds out your Real Name, they can make you do nasty things, really horrible things, and you won't be able to not do it!"

Matron continued in a slightly softer voice, since little Amie looked terrified. "So not only must you keep your Real Name a secret, but you must not trust anyone until you know them very well, just in case they are a Picksie out to play a trick on you. Okay?"

The little girl on matron's lap looked up again thoughtfully.  "But, how will we know if they're a picksie?"

"Well, I'll have to let you work that out for yourself, sweetpea," matron said, gently, "Just be careful. Can you do that for me?"

"Yes matron, I'll be careful."

The boys up the back of the group looked bored. One of them said, "Can we hear about Onyxia now?"

Matron sighed and started the new story. "Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was a brave group of adventurers..."


Topical?  Probably not, but it inspired this story :)

Wednesday 7 July 2010

A Quiet Evening in the Drag

Click the image for a 1600 by 900px wallpaper image.

That's a quiet evening in the Drag, Orgrimmar, NOT a quiet evening in Drag. Those are in my other screenie folder.

Ps. Yes, this is another cop-out post because I'm busy again.  No, I'm not going to post about RealID.

Monday 5 July 2010

Changing Seasons

Today is the last day of the Midsummer Fire Festival. I hope you achieved everything you wanted to! Here's a reminder to take all your alts for a spin around the festival pole for great xp justice!

As I was traveling around visiting fires, it occurred to me that it was midsummer in the game while I was sitting in a cold room in the middle of winter. I talked about whether it really could be midsummer all over Azeroth in yesterday's post.

But I also started to think about what a different game it could be if there were changing seasons in the game.

Effects on Characters
If the whole of Azeroth changed with the seasons, how would it affect our gameplay? People in many cold places on Earth get depressed enough during the winter - imagine what it might be like if it was winter all over Azeroth as well.  Disastrous, I should think.

The only game I ever remember playing that had changing seasons was Sims 2 (apart from perhaps the sped-up seasons in Settlers-type games). In Sims 2, your characters react differently to situations depending on the season.  In winter they can get too cold if they stay outside too long, and in summer they can overheat if they do too much physical activity. 

Adding that kind of complexity to an already complex game could just end up being really annoying.  Imagine if our characters got some kind of [Heat Exhaustion] debuff whereby our combat was slowed and defense lowered, until you took a drink. Or a [Chilled] one that reduced health and mana regeneration until you went inside?

I think it's pretty safe to say that most players would oppose seasons that actually affected gameplay in some way.

But having in-game seasons opens up so many amazing possible changes to each zone. 

Climate Change
What would Stormwind be like under a covering of snow? The canals might freeze over, and the ramps down to the harbour could get very slippery.

Do the dry deserts of Desolace or Badlands ever have a wet season? Deserts can be amazing oceans of beautiful flowers and wildlife when the rains come. 

Mulgore, the green grassland that it is, feels to me like a place that might get weeks of rain in the winter. Is that why the city is built on the top of the mesa - to escape the floods?

Does the Swamp of Sorrows or Dustwallow Marsh get a dry season, where the swamps turn to dust and the crocolisks are confined to a puddle near Sunken Temple?

Dun Morogh has been in a five-year long winter. It could look a lot like Loch Modan if the snow melted, and it has many lakes that are currently frozen over. Would the population of Ironforge have an afternoon of messing about in boats on Iceflow Lake?

What about Silvermoon City? It's far to the north of the continent of Lordaeron, why does its climate seem so mild? Mind you, there's nothing to indicate that Eversong Woods is a warm place. There are plenty of places on Earth that get cold but never see snow - they tend to have cold but dry winters and mild summers.

Would the grasslands of the world get a covering of wildflowers in the spring? There are already wildflowers in many zones, but I bet somewhere like Arathi Highlands would be gorgeous in the springtime. Need moar bluebell!

Would every forest that isn't pine look like Azshara in the Autumn? The fallen leaves could cover the ground and leave the forests as bare trunks during the winter. Imagine Elwynn Forest like that - golden leaves in big piles that you could jump in - at least until they were covered by snow.  The jungles of Stranglethorn wouldn't lose their leaves though - rainforests are evergreen.

The possibilites really are endless.

What zone would you like to see in a different season? Describe to me what it might look like :)

Sunday 4 July 2010

A Question of Geography

Tomorrow is the last day of the Midsummer Fire Festival.  I managed to get Flame Keeper for Aefa, and visited some of the fires on Balindah as well, but all that travel is quite time consuming so I didn't get to do much more.

As I was riding and flying around, I started to wonder whether it is really midsummer all over Azeroth. It occurred to me because where I live it's the middle of winter at the moment. While my characters are traveling around the world celebrating summer, I'm sitting here wrapped in a blanket trying to stay warm.

Does Azeroth have different climates in its northern and southern hemispheres? I mean, Dun Morogh has been deep in midwinter for five years now. If this is really Dun Morogh at midsummer, I feel sorry for the poor inhabitants!  No wonder Ironforge has a huge lava pit in the middle of it.

Then I started to wonder what the game would be like if the zones changed with seasons, if the leaves fell in the forests and the snow melted in the more elevated regions. I'll write more about that idea tomorrow, but for now - Geography!

World View

A short natural history first. Before the Sundering, the land masses of Azeroth were all joined together, with the Well of Eternity at the centre. For more information on how the world looked at that time, I suggest checking out Azeroth, Pre-Sundering on Shades of Grey. Amazing (and very detailed) stuff.

The post-sundering land masses are Northrend, Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms (made up of the continents of Lordaeron in the north and Azeroth and Khaz Modan in the south).

I couldn't find any mention of Lore that definitively states that Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms and Northrend are the only land masses on this planet. If you sail west from Revantusk Village across the Forbidding Sea, do you end up arriving in Shadowprey Village?  The ocean is called The Veiled Sea on that side.  Is there another continent on the "dark" side of Azeroth waiting for some Christopher Columbus to "discover"?

Wowwiki seems to think so: 
The world of Azeroth also has lands located at the other side, beyond the Veiled Sea to the west of Kalimdor, and beyond the Forbidding Sea to the east of the Eastern Kingdoms. No one is sure or has knowledge of what kind of creatures, lands, cultures, life, and sentient being lives in the other side of Azeroth. It is clear though that it is very dangerous.

"A handful of ships have ventured from Kalimdor away from the Maelstrom — to the north, west, and south. None have yet returned." From Warcraft RPG Source book.
The lack of knowledge about the other side of Azeroth seems widespread. There is a globe in the Halls of Lightning that shows Eastern Kingdoms on one side and Kalimdor on the other. The Great Sea can be identified by the presence of the Maelstrom, but the sea on the other side of the globe is empty.

The globe seems to indicate that the continents are balanced fairly evenly north and south of the equator, and that the continents are positioned in the same orientation that we see on the World Map.  However, the climate of each zone does not line up with these views of the planet. The globe could have been made by someone who was unaware of the existence of extra land masses, or of the actual position of the land masses around the planet.

It can be assumed that the in-game World Map is not to scale. For starters, Northrend is too close to the other continents.

If we also assume that the climate on Azeroth behaves the same way as that of Earth, in that it has ice-caps at either pole and gets hot around the equator, it seems that Northrend it should be a lot further north of the other two land masses than it looks on the World Map, considering the amount of snow and ice present in its zones.

Secondly, the northern lights are visible in the southern zones of Northrend - but not in Teldrassil or Eversong Woods. The Isle of Quel'Danas is certainly not as cold as the Storm Peaks, either.

The southern zones of Azeroth are desert or jungle (Silithus, Tanaris, Stranglethorn Vale and Ungoro Crater), while the northern and central parts of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms are mild and temperate.  This suggests that the land masses are north or mostly north of Azeroth's equator. 

If all of the three known land masses are north of the equator, that means it really is midsummer at the moment and should be celebrated all over Azeroth!  But then, on Earth we all celebrate Christmas on the same date - a festival that was originally (depending on your beliefs, of course) designed to line up with a pagan celebration that's aim was to to cheer people up at midwinter. I can tell you, Christmas where I live is anything but wintery.

Planet Spin
There is one possibility for why the globe in Halls of Lightning could be accurate.

The only reason Earth is cold at the north and south poles is that they are always further away from the sun than the rest of the planet. The band around the equator is always closest to the sun, so it is the hottest (generally speaking). Seasons themselves only happen because of a slight wiggle in the orbit around the sun, that causes the planet to tilt over time so that north or south are closer to the sun.

What if the planet of Azeroth was tilted permanently in its orbit, so that the "southern" half of the planet was always closer to the sun?  It would always be summer in the south, and Northrend would be stuck in eternal winter.

It's a theory, anyway.

I hope you've enjoyed the Midsummer festival this year!

Friday 2 July 2010


This story was inspired by Anna's Friday Five Hundred: Midsummer Sun post from last week, where she asked us to write a ficlet for this prompt:
A record-breaking heat wave hits Azeroth just in time for Midsummer.
My lil fic-snippet features my shaman, Balindah, just after she arrives in town after being out questing. I've also tried to describe how the citizens of Orgrimmar might deal with a heatwave just as the fire festival is in full swing.  I hope you like it.


The air in the Valley of Strength barely stirred in the late afternoon heat. The sun now only touched the tops of the rock walls of the valley, but the heat of the whole day radiated up from the stone streets and the city remained a baking dust-bowl.

Balindah grunted as she laboured up the hill towards the Drag, and wiped the sweat out of her eyes. She had long since given up recasting a cooling water shield, as the energy required to hold the water globules together and prevent evaporation just tired her out more than she already was.

The Drag was becoming crowded with Orgrimmers, venturing out in the cooling evening air. Lazy peons still slumbered under the branches of the huge tree in the area, and an enterprising goblin had set up a stall selling sliced watermelon, and also had a small captured ice elemental making cold moonberry juice for a queue of thirsty citizens.

As Balindah approached the entrance of the Valley of Wisdom she could feel the heat radiating around the corner. It seemed they had kept up with tradition after all - a massive bonfire burned just outside the Drag's entrance. Nothing could get in the way of Orcs when tradition was involved, even the hottest summer in Orcish memory.

Rather than keeping people away, the bonfire had drawn a huge crowd of people, honouring the flame and joining in the festivities. A huge tent had been set up to one side, with a stall containing all manner of festival clothing and paraphernalia. A ribbon pole stood in the centre of the action, with several laughing children and a few braver adults spinning around the magical flames at its base.

As Balindah took a step into the valley to try to pick her way through the crowd, she was nearly knocked over by an Orc crashing into her from her left.

"Oh! Oh no!" he cried as he stumbled, and a flaming torch came crashing down a few inches from his outstretched hand. The torch broke apart, sending flaming fragments in all directions, and one landed on the Orc's shirt and set it alight. A scowling Shaman chucked a Riptide over him from behind with a splash, and the now damp Orc got to his feet and shuffled away, sheepishly. Balindah rubbed her bruised shoulder, shook her head in irritation and continued up the hill towards Grommash Hold.

The crowd ebbed and flowed to and from the side of the bonfire. There were people trying their luck with tossing torches into braziers on one side. On the other side of the road, in an out-of-the-way corner, a short blood elf woman was practising juggling torches. The torches were not lit, but she was flinging them up so fast that they were barely visible and catching them again just as quickly. Every so often she would stop, look quickly at a timepiece on a chain attached to her shirt, and curse violently.

Balindah nodded a greeting as she passed the nervous-looking Kor'kron guards at the front of Grommash Hold, and headed inside to find the Shaman trainers.

About Cataclysm Spoilers

The Cataclysm Beta has started, and some bloggers have their invitations already. I have not opted into the Beta, and I don't plan to either.

I just wanted to assure you all that I will not be posting any visual or plot spoilers before the release of Cataclysm.  I do plan to talk about Druid mechanic changes when they become available, but I'll mark those posts clearly as containing Cataclysm info so you can choose to read them or not.

There are a few reasons why I will be attempting to avoid visual and plot spoilers:

  • The Cata release is likely to be at least three months away
  • I'm not finished with WotLK yet
  • I would like my new expansion experiences to be as fresh and unspoiled as possible.

The Cataclysm release is likely to be at least three months away
I understand that many people have been doing the same stuff for so long that they are desperate for something new, but the beta has only just started. The Beta for Wrath of the Lich King started in mid-July, 2008, and the full expansion was not released until November of that year - I think we can reasonably expect a similar release schedule for Cataclysm.  In fact my money is on that one week in November when we are going away on holidays. It happened last time as well...

I'm not finished with WotLK yet
I have only been playing this expansion for a year. I took a big break in the middle and missed out on a lot of things, so there are still plenty of things to see and do and achieve and explore and so on. I'm focusing on getting those things done before I look at anything coming up in the expansion.

I would like my new expansion experiences to be as fresh and unspoiled as possible
World of Warcraft is a beautiful game, and the stories within it fill us with joy, fear, revulsion or awe.  The new "old" world promises to be even more amazing and awe-inspiring. Places that we have explored and quested in for five years will be changed irrevocably, and I am hoping to be able to explore those places with a similar wide-eyed wonder that I first explored them in, several years ago.

I realise that over the next few months screenshots and plot spoilers are going to be absolutely everywhere, but I would ask bloggers, twitterers and other information-dispersers to please mark Beta information clearly as a spoiler, so that those who like our experiences fresh and new can try to resist as long as possible.