Stocking Up for Ulduar?

Stocking Up for Ulduar?

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Do you find that you have time on your hands lately? Have you been checking on the Ulduar news every hour from work?

If you have extra time in the game, there are things you can do to prepare for the release of 3.1. Stockpiling a few little goodies can distract you from the suspense and even–potentially–improve your raid performance when 3.1 does hit. In addition, I know from experience that prices on many commodities change–in one direction or another–whenever a patch alters their relative value.

As a caveat, though, I’ll tell you that I am directing most of my efforts toward stockpiling just one thing–gold. I’m making as much as I can right now off the sales of flasks, herbs, ore, and bars. Gold is the ultimate stackable quantity, and I don’t have the bank space for some of the other goodies I’ll mention here. As an added plus, gold will let you buy what you need when you need it–quickly. However, there is a potential to make more on some of your auctions if you can wait a bit. I’m no WoW market expert, but based on the information we have about 3.1, here are some of the things whose values stand to change at the release of the patch.

The Winners

The following things, by my best guess, stand to rise in price after the patch. New recipes and profession changes along with an influx of new gear will make some things more coveted than they are now. In addition, everyone’s consumables bill will skyrocket as guilds take on new and challenging encounters.

Titansteel bars
Saronite ore and bars
Blue-quality gems
Arctic furs
Heavy Borean leather
Frostweave cloth
Flasks
Buff food
Potions (Health, Mana, Speed, Indestcructible)
Uncooked meat
Glyphs
Enchanting materials

The Losers

These things will experience some change at the patch. I would expect their price to go down, either a little, in the case of fish (as more people will be driven to fish their own with shorter cast times and the chance at a mount) or a lot, in the case of BoE epics. Many of these items, like Je’Tze’s Bell and the Greatness trinket, will go from being an enormously high-priced item (8,000-12,000g on some servers), to merely outrageously priced (5000 or less). A former best-in-slot will never be as coveted as a true best-in-slot, and I have every expectation that some Ulduar trinket will dethrone these two.

Herbs (nodes will soon yield more flowers per gather)
Raw fish
Nobles cards
Je’Tze’s Bell
BoE Naxx epics
BoE crafted epics–item level 200

So, long story short? Sell your Nobles card now, and buy your Bell later. As for me, the only thing I’m stocking is a few flasks. My guess is that the Flask of Pure Mojo will overtake the Flask of the Frost Wyrm for healers, and I have some that I made for cheap ready for the new market. A further word to those in the Inscription business: I suggest researching commonly-used glyphs now and preparing several stacks for sale at the release of 3.1. Competition will be high among scribes, so prices might not be as astronomical as you think, but the business will dry up quickly as people pick up their second spec. You’ll no longer have repeat business from frequent spec-switchers.

Did anyone see anything I’ve missed? I’d love to see your financial predictions for 3.1.

When a Bonus is More than a Bonus

When a Bonus is More than a Bonus

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Thanks to MMO Champion and it’s data-ming ways, we now have access to a preliminary version of the Tier 8 set bonuses. It’s anyone’s guess whether these bonuses will actually go live. The bonuses for Resto druid appear to be excellent, though there’s one catch: the 4-piece bonus for Tier 8 is much too good.
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Here we have a classic example of a good set bonus and a “bad” set bonus. Lest you grow angry at me for complaining about buffs as well as nerfs, I’ll explain what I mean.

What makes a set bonus good?

The two-piece Tier 8 bonus, which gives a 10% boost to the throughput of Swiftmend, will be nice to have. Swiftmend is a spell almost every healing druid talents for, and it can be used by both raid healers and tank healers alike. The bonus doesn’t conflict with or double the Glyph of Swiftmend, which is a different and even stronger throughput increase which allows Swiftmend to be applied without consuming one of the druid’s HoTs (either Rejuvenation or Regrowth). Moreover, if I had one piece of advice for most Resto druids, it would be to use Swiftmend more. Many forget all about it because it’s a two-step spell–HoT setup plus instant top-off. I find that I perform much better if I use it whenever it’s up. Still, this bonus will never be overpowered, even in combination with the glyph, because Swiftmend continues to be on a cooldown. Druids will get this bonus and enjoy it, perhaps giggling to themselves over their WWS reports. However, it will be a set bonus that the druid can bear to leave behind for whatever Tier 9 gear has in store.

What makes a set bonus bad?

We’ve all seen set bonuses that are lackluster or unusable. The Tier 6 4-pc Resto druid bonus to Healing Touch comes to mind as a particularly useless one. I passed on Tier 6 pants in favor of badge pants because this bonus simply wasn’t one. However, a bonus that goes in the other direction, becoming so good that it overshadows all other gear upgrades, is actually more harmful to the class and the game. Take, for example, the much-lamented 4pc Tier 5 mage bonus, which entirely changed the functioning of Arcane Blast, greatly upping its damage output at an increasing mana cost. I still /spit on this bonus. It caused the four raiding mages in my former guild to hold onto 4-pc Tier 5 until they were able to equip 4 pieces of Tier 6 at once. The consternation this caused them probably cost my guild several extra hours of loot debate. The mages also faced accusations of DKP hoarding as they waited to buy the early Tier 6 pieces. They had much more DKP than they could spend because of their need to hang onto T5. Moreover, the mages themselves didn’t always pay the increased mana cost. Instead, the druid healers Innervated them. We didn’t mind, exactly, because mana was plentiful for healers at that point, but I couldn’t Innervate all four of them, and I always felt bad when I didn’t have any juice left for a player who asked. However, the most pernicious aspect of the bonus had to do with play style. It pigeon-holed mages into an arcane spec and a set rotation, turning three trees into one for a tier and a half of content. I know one determined fire mage who switched to her warlock in Tier 5 because she didn’t like the arcane playstyle. In the end, the T5 bonus was judged to be too strong, nerfed, and finally taken away.

Ghostcrawler has actually said in the past that a tier bonus should be just that–a bonus. I wholeheartedly agree. However, the 4 pc T8 bonus isn’t going to just be a bonus–it’s going to radically change most druids’ rotations.

Rejuvenation has always been a good spell, but its limiting factor is that it doesn’t tick for 3 seconds after it is applied. In essence, that turns it into a HoT with a long cast. Rejuvenation is probably the druid’s most over-written spell. Thankfully it’s also our most efficient. With the bonus, I would get a tiny burst of healing–1997 in Syd’s current gear–when I cast the spell. That’s less than a Holy Shock, but it has a huge impact. With even a small initial heal, Rejuvenation would be “fixed.” It would go from being something that some druids don’t cast, preferring the faster-ticking Lifebloom and Wild Growth, into the raid healing spell. I think this is a very innovative and necessary addition to the spell; however, it doesn’t belong in a set bonus. This “fix” would get druids away from using Lifebloom for every situation, and that’s great. However, if this change is truly imagined as a “fix” to the spell, it needs to be made permanent through talents. Hell, I think it’s worth 5 of my talent points–or even the entire space in the tree occupied by Revitalize and Living Seed. This one little set bonus would give druids what they’ve always wanted–a tool to keep others from sniping their heals.

“Sniping,” for the uninitiated, is the practice of going outside one’s own healing assignment to heal someone else’s target, particularly a target that already has a ticking hot or a slower-casting incoming heal. Typically, players snipe with quick heals–Flash Heal, Flash of Light, Chain Heal, even Nourish or glyphed Healing Touch. As I’ve explained before, healers will never stop sniping–in any case, not until the default UI shows incoming heals and HoTs, mana is as scarce as roses in the Alaskan winter, and healing meters go extinct. Druids are incredibly vulnerable to heal-snipers as most of our healing takes a bit of setup before it starts to work. Ghostcrawler has said in the past that heal-sniping is a valid concern, but it’s not going to be fixed through nerfing mana. Other tools have to be used against it, and the new Rejuvenation is a perfect fit. Healers who play without any incoming heal data will be able to see that the target is covered and consequently will turn elsewhere, even (gasp!) back to their own assigned target.

The change to Rejuvenation needs to be either a talent or a glyph–and I would prefer talent, because then it would correspond to priests’ new talented Renew, which just got a similar front-ended burst. Renew has never been as good as Rejuvenation in the past, but with a small initial burst, it might just be better than Rejuv post-3.1.

In any case, if this tier bonus remains unaltered, druids will wear their Tier 8 until they have 4 pc of Tier 9–and maybe even beyond. This set bonus is more powerful than any one gear upgrade–and I would say, probably more powerful than four. It steps beyond what a bonus is supposed to do. At maximum, I’d say the set bonus for a previous tier should maybe give a player pause about equipping just two pieces of the new tier or item level, as it may be. Not all the best pieces are part of a set. However, when it gets to three upgrades over the stats on the old tier, players should be happy about making a change.

I’m concerned, Blizzard–very concerned. Thinking as both a raiding druids and a guild officer, I’d rather not wrestle with this particular angel, as good as that set bonus may seem when we’re sitting at the beginning, not the end, of Tier 8.

On Min-Maxing Professions

On Min-Maxing Professions

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Ever since her creation, Sydera has been a dual crafter. She toiled not, and neither did she spin. I’ve changed the specific crafting professions a few times for one raid advantage or another, but in late BC I decided on Enchanting and Alchemy. I took on Alchemy–without an herbalist alt–then for the Alchemist’s Stone, which was a best-in-slot trinket at the time. I still love Enchanting and Alchemy for raiding. They combine a raid advantage with convenience. The self-only ring enchants continue to be strong, and I love being able to disenchant my old gear and turn it into a useful commodity. Moreover, I always raid with a flask or dual elixirs, and I enjoy the boost to those consumables when it counts. My favorite raiding advantage, though, would have to be the four-hour flasks. The psychological effect is quite positive, and I would say that the boost to morale counts more than the actual gold saved.

However, the big disadvantage to Sydera has always been that she can’t extract anything useful from the game world while she’s questing. Lately I’ve been buying herbs and selling the resultant flasks on the AH. I always make a little bit of money, mostly because of the procs from being elixir-specced, but it’s nothing fantastic. The bulk of my gold earning in Wrath has been from selling the BoE Emblem of Valor bracers. However, it wasn’t quite enough for me.

Min-maxing for raiding is always my priority, but I need money too. The primary reason has nothing to do with me. Rather, the recent discussions of relative tank health among the four classes coupled with the imminent release of a more difficult raid dungeon prompted my A#1 Tank and Significant Other, Briolante, to make a plan to level jewelcrafting to replace his herbalism. The problem? My flask business and his glyph business didn’t make enough money to support a profession change, especially with Ulduar and its higher repair bills looming. So, enter Part B of the min-maxing plan: my under-utilized, underprivileged paladin alt, Marfisa.

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Marfi was my second WoW character, but she was the first one to leave her starting area. I raided with her in Classic, back when I didn’t know what I was doing, and I healed through Kara with her in early BC. She’s been Retribution since mid-BC, but I didn’t really do much with her even when Ret was the Flavor of the Month (for about 10 minutes at patch 3.0). In the last three weeks, however, Briolante and I tag team-leveled her up to 77, and she has a brand-new shiny fully-leveled herbalism to go with the mining she’s had since Dire Maul was a cool new place to go. As for Brio’s jewelcrafting, the last I checked, it was at 200, so we’re moving right along.

Now, I know I could have gone about this differently, focusing on earning money through the AH to buy ore and herbs, but I chose to level an alt for gathering because it’s a solution that will work not just for now, and for this profession change, but future ones should we choose to do so. In the next expansion, Marfi might be leveling skinning instead of herbalism, but now that she’s close to max level, she’s in a good position to be a helper-gatherer over again should things change. With Crusader Aura to help out and the movement speed increase for Ret, she’s an excellent choice for a hunt-n-fetcher as well. My warlock would have been a poor choice in comparison.

For me, leveling an alt just to service my household’s two raiding mains was an extreme move. Now I’ll use Marfi to provide herbs to Syd and herbs and ore to Brio. I have to say, I’m liking the convenience of it. I’ve already made some flasks on Syd just on the herbs I used to level, and I can tell you, I’m not going to be hoarding Frost Lotus anymore. But who knows when poor Marfi will hit 80! Probably in 6 months, when she gets there purely through killing those pesky mobs that like to stand next to my Icethorn.

Here’s what I told my guild when I dinged 450 herbalism. They were teasing me about my ambition to buy a Je’Tze’s Bell, which sells for about 8,000g on my server.

I said: “Now that I’m a gatherer, money is like dirt. There’s always more lying around on the ground.”

I’m proud to say that I came up with that truly terrible pun on the fly.

My question to you, dear readers, is this:

How far will you go to min-max your character?

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

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Here I am, drowning my sorrows in a glass of Miracle-Gro at my favorite Dalaran tavern. Why all the tragic tree tears?

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last week, the news from the developers is that Lifebloom is about to get a heavy nerf to its healing per mana (HPM). In 3.1, Lifebloom will cost twice what it does at current and return 50% of its cost when it blooms, adjusted for the number of stacks on the target.

What does this mean, you might ask?

Ghostcrawler tells us that the intent is to end the practice of rolling Lifebloom–efficiently–on two or more tanks. Unfortunately, the nerf hits a “good” practice just as hard–rolling Lifebloom on just one tank.

I’ve been following Elitist Jerks and the official Healing Class Role forums, and amid the insane drivel and endless whining, I’ve been able to discern a few things.

What Druids Want

#1: Overwhelmingly, druids want a Lifebloom we can use.

Lifebloom has come to be a spec-defining ability, and its rolling mechanism makes it unique. My own worry, and that of many raiding druids, is that the practice of using Lifebloom as a rolling buffer on one tank will be over. We want reassurance from the developers that Lifebloom will continue to work for us.

#2: Druids want consistency in the way we time the spell.

Most druids agree on one thing: the new bloom mechanism is awkward. A reward for blooming and a punishment for refreshing contradict the mechanics we’ve grown up with. In this topsy-turvy Lifebloom world, what’s good now will soon be bad–you’ll want your Lifebloom to fall off whenever you can afford it.

#3: Druids want a raid role, and we want it to be consistent with what it has been in the past.

Every player, of course, wants to be useful. After all, we want to play the game, and rerolling isn’t a realistic option for most of us. I’ve seen priest and shaman and paladin threads about their raid role as well, and now druids are feeling that anxiety. I’ve also seen the devs reply to these anxieties in dismissive and condescending ways. They always say that they conceive of raid roles differently than the community does. To that, I’ll reply that perceptions matter. Raid invites are based on them, after all.

Druids overwhelmingly believe that their raid role is to add a buffer, a bit of insurance against disaster. Our HoTs are like the priest’s Power Word Shield or the Shaman’s Earth Shield: useless when the content is easy, but essential when the content is hard. If cushioning the MT goes the way of the dodo, many druids may start to feel like the poor man’s paladin. I think Blizzard needs to pay attention to the druid’s historical raid role and make sure it remains intact. In order for a buffer to work, it needs to stay up. Rolling LB will always be the best thing–for the tank. And that’s what we want to think about, right?

#4: Druids want to be less dependent on timers

Druid healing is already very rigid. Unlike other healers, we have a true rotation, and it’s every bit as ugly as an Affliction warlock’s. We have four different HoTs, each of which has a different duration, and one of which stacks. We’re already tied to 3rd-party mods to manage these spells, particularly Lifebloom. Right now, though, all we have to do is roll, and the penalty for refreshing early is slight. However, in a mana-constrained environment, with Lifebloom being our most expensive HoT, we absolutely will not be able to refresh early. The penalty will be huge. In addition, we’ll be having to make a decision about whether to let Lifebloom bloom every 9 seconds or so. That’s a lot of mental bandwidth dedicated to timing one spell. Many druids would rather drop Lifebloom altogether than micromanage the bloom. As it stands now, it looks like we will be more dependent on timers post 3.1 than we are now, and that’s a scary thought.

Alternate Solutions

Everyone has their pet fix for the Lifebloom problem or their favorite way to mitigate the impact of the nerf. I’m going to repeat here a couple of my favorites. I’ve seen each of these ideas posted several times by different posters in slightly different iterations, but here’s my take.

#1. Buff Lifebloom’s HoT slightly and reduce the bloom. A gain in HPS on the part of the spell that’s most useful in PvE would cushion the impact of the nerf somewhat.

#2. Limit the number of active Lifeblooms to 6 per druid. I personally love this solution, and I’d even like it if the limit were three. This would keep multiple stacks of Lifebloom from dominating the healing meters, and even though a raid could ostensibly stack druids, most probably wouldn’t. After all, Lifebloom works best as a sort of damage cushion on the main tank. This is the use of rolling Lifebloom that I’d like to protect.

#3. Remove the stacking mechanism. I’m also in favor of this solution for simplicity’s sake. Lifebloom causes a ton of problems because of its stacks. Why not buff the value for a single Lifebloom and remove the stacking capability? It’s the stacking that causes such rigidity in a druid’s rotation. I doubt many druids will be brave enough to single stack it in 3.1, but that’s looking like a mana efficient way to go. Why not make the decision for us?

I’m interested in knowing what readers think about this problem. As for me, I think I understand why Lifebloom is a target right now, and it’s not a pretty thought. I think that–correctly or no–the developers believe that the 40% nerf to OOFSR regen won’t hurt the druid enough. Right or wrong, it’s seen as a nerf that will hurt the priest more. As such, they’ve changed both the cost and the mechanics of druids’ signature spell in order to force us to run empty. My feeling from reading the comments of PTR testers is that the change is too dramatic. Combined with the new, underwhelming Innervate, the expensive rolled Lifebloom may just not be sustainable even on one target. I’m not looking forward to standing idly by mid-fight with an empty mana bar. Far better than that would be to do without Lifebloom, but I sure would miss it.

Lifebloom nerf for 3.1: WTF?

Lifebloom nerf for 3.1: WTF?

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I thought I was having a nice Friday afternoon, and so I said to myself, “Self, why don’t we read a little Elitist Jerks forums before we leave work?” Good idea, right? Not so much. Here’s a little jewel, quoted from the European forums of all places, for your reading pleasure:

• Lifebloom: Mana cost of all ranks doubled. When Lifebloom blooms or is dispelled, it now refunds half the base mana cost of the spell per application of Lifebloom, and the heal effect is multiplied by the number of applications.

Fortunately, my leafy friends have already been at work, and GC has made some responses. Here is the discussion–it’s actually quite instructive and I feel like I learned a little bit after reading the whole thing. The surprise, actually, is how constructive the community is being–sucking up, I guess, versus Ghostcrawler’s uncharacteristically snarky attitude. GC seems to think we have all been triumphing over an OP Lifebloom and just waiting on a nerf. In my experience, that’s just not the case.

Why Oh Why Did this Happen to Us?

The stated reason for the efficiency nerf to Lifebloom is, quite simply, to de-incentivize stacking the spell on multiple tanks. Unfortunately, the nerf targets single tank stacking as well. From the math, it becomes horribly inefficient to refresh Lifebloom after the initial triple stack. In the future–especially in a mana-scarce environment–we will need to manage both the bloom and the roll, instead of now just worrying about the roll.

Most posters believe that the bloom of Lifebloom will be mostly overheal. I concur. There are many situations where my Lifebloom blooms. Sometimes I refresh too early, but sometimes, well, I’m too late. The “too late” problem is exponentially more likely to occur in busy fights with lots of movement or sources of damage. Yes, I know, I’m a bad druid. I use Grid to display my current Hots, but I’m not running a big splashy HoT timer like I used to in BC. I can tell you that the bloom of my Lifeblooms tends to wash out at around 1% of my effective heal in any given fight.

Who’s Facerolling Lifebloom Now?

This nerf really puzzles me. Are any of you, dear readers, topping healing meters by rolling on multiple tanks? That used to be me–back in Hyjal. Most of the current fights are either one-tank only, see me raid healing, or require so much movement (Sarth 3D) that facerolling LB gets to be impossible. I used to love stacking LB on 4 tanks–it felt dynamic, and the contribution of the heals was large enough in proportion to the tanks’ health that I felt like I was doing something. Now, not so much. The proportion of the tank’s total health that a triple-stacked LB is able to heal has decreased, such that Lifebloom looks like it’s not doing anything. I’ve spent some time looking at my WWS v. my guildies, especially when another druid outperforms me on the same assignment. It looks like right now Lifebloom is doing a decent job raid healing, but it’s usually not triple-stacked or rolled. It’s doing a lot of healing on tanks, but Regrowth is doing even more.

Maybe Ulduar is Hyjal 2.0 with four tanks in play. That’s the only setup I can imagine where this change would be absolutely necessary in order to keep resto druids from having a distinct advantage over other healers. That’s bad–a lot of guilds choose their number of tanks based on content, and right now you need a maximum of three. I wonder where everyone’s going to find their fourth?

Goodbye, Lifebloom?

The saddest thing about this change is that it adds yet another thing for druids to time perfectly. I’m in the fair category at perfect timing–I’m more into using my HoTs as a set-it-and-forget-it type heal. As such, Rejuvenation is my favorite spell, and if there’s a silver lining here, it’s that I’m about to actually be rewarded for casting it instead of kicking for using it. Right now, Rejuvenation is a poor bet–it’s going to get overhealed, and in the current environment, the numbers show a single Lifebloom to be more effective as a raid heal due to its faster tick. Presumably, the change to mana regen will be enough to tone down the endless sniping and spamming that goes on now. Right now, it’s very easy to pad the meters by ignoring your healing assignment in favor of whoever’s lowest or taking damage, but in the future I look for tighter assignments to be the norm.

However, my head already hurts contemplating what I believe will be the new use of Lifebloom: stacking on the MT to three and letting it bloom, and then immediately stacking again. It could be all-Loatheb, all the time–we’ll have to refresh our 3-stack selectively in order to time the bloom of Lifebloom to a point where the burst will be needed, or at least we’ll feel compelled to try.

Sure, the best restos will do that. Others will simply start to play sloppy. My healing, worst case scenario, could go something like this: I’ll cast whatever number of Lifeblooms from 1-3 that I feel like on the MT and then go do other stuff. Sometime later, I’ll get back to my target and say hey! Why don’t I stack on you again, using up a lot of GCDs in the process? Because I didn’t pay attention to timing, my blooms will be 100% overheal, and because the tank didn’t always have 3X Lifebloom as a buffer, he came close to dying a couple of times. And at the end of the fight, there I’ll be, hanging down at the bottom of the meters, standing alone, like the cheese in the Farmer in the Dell song. I’ll end fights wondering if I did anything worthwhile at all, besides, of course, the obligatory Wild Growth cast every time it’s up. Man, I wish I had started working on my shaman like I intended to six weeks ago!

It might be easiest just to take Lifebloom off the bar. After all, there are druids who stopped using it after the last round of nerfs. It might take down my potential effective healing, but it might be worth it just to have a little more breathing room. After all, I decided not to play my Affliction warlock at all in the expansion because her expanded DoT rotation got to be too much to handle. They’ve just made her easier to play by eliminating Siphon Life–now why would they do something to a HoT class that has an opposite effect? However, if I, as a tank healer, take Lifebloom out of my rotation, I miss out on the full bonus to glyphed Nourish, which is shaping up to be 3.1’s prize pig. What’s a poor weepy willow to do?

On Change

I usually like change, but this time it’s a little different. I had to relearn my class for Wrath, and I have to say, I preferred the TBC Lifebloom-heavy healing model. I felt important, and what I did for the tanks seemed dynamic and useful. I learned to work with the limitations on my rotation and my movement–I was good at that. Now that I can do anything, I’m less likely to know what to do! I’m overburdened by choice already. Adding one more thing to manage–and at that, a burst heal that happens 8 to 10 seconds after the original cast and requires three more GCDs to be spent after it–in an already full rotation–just seems daunting.

3.1 PTR Notes: New Druid Glyphs

3.1 PTR Notes: New Druid Glyphs

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I haven’t found time quite yet to log onto the PTR, but I have been anxiously following all the updates and changes on MMOchampion.com. If you’ve had your head in the sand somehow, go check out the new stuff here.

This morning’s post will be a short one, but I wanted to bring to all of your attention the awesomeness of the new Druid glyphs, particularly for resto.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Druid (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
Glyph of Rebirth — Players resurrected by Rebirth are returned to life with 100% health. (Old: Increases the amount of health on a character brought back to life via Rebirth by 100%.)
Glyph of Starfall — Reduces the cooldown of Starfall by 90 sec. (Old: Increases the duration of Starfall by 2 sec.)
Glyph of Berserk *new* — Increases the duration of Berserk by 5 sec.
Glyph of Wild Growth *new* — Wild Growth now affects up to 6 targets.
Glyph of Nourish *new* — Your Nourish heals an additional 6% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target.
Glyph of Savage Roar *new* — Your Savage Roar ability grants an additional 6% bonus damage done.
Glyph of Typhoon *new* — Reduces the cooldown of your Typhoon spell by 3 sec.
Glyph of Barkskin *new* — Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 1 to 0% while Barkskin is active.

Too Many Choices?

Up until now, there have been accepted “right” and “wrong” ways to glyph the restoration druid. With the current glyphs, most top-of-the-line restos use one of two combinations.

1. Swiftmend, Regrowth, Lifebloom
2. Swiftmend, Regrowth, Innervate

I am personally using Combo #2, though I would have replaced it by now if I hadn’t wanted to keep Innervate at least until my character copied to the PTR. Hopefully once there I can exploit the dual spec system with two Resto specs and test many of the Resto glyphs in raid situations.

However, based purely on guesswork, I give you the hot combos of the future:

1. Swiftmend, Wild Growth, Innervate.
This one says “raid healer” to me. However, people’s individual use of Swiftmend varies. It’s a combo type spell and it gets used directly in proportion, I’d think, to people’s ability to identify their own Rejuvenations on their UI. I am a very heavy user now, mostly because of the glyph.

2. Swiftmend, Regrowth, Lifebloom.
This combo is for the classic tank healer, usually assigned to Main Tanks.

3. Swiftmend, Regrowth, Innervate.
For the tank healer who sometimes runs short on mana.

4. Swiftmend, Nourish, Lifebloom.
Also for the tank healer, but for those who like either combos or shorter heals. This lets the druid use all her spells and depending on spec, could be a fairly mana-efficient combo.

5. Swiftmend, Nourish, Innervate.
For the efficiency expert. This druid will have mana left when everyone else is doing the twist and wishing they had their old OOFSR mana return values.

6. Swiftmend, Wild Growth, Lifebloom.
This combo is for the generalist who never knows what she’ll be doing in a given fight. However, she’s mana-confident.

7. Wild Growth, Lifebloom, Regrowth.
The WWS-obsessed. This druid has looked at what spells get used the most and has glyphed entirely based on the percentages. Substitute Nourish for Regrowth based on personal preference.

8. Wild Growth, Lifebloom, Innervate.
This combination is for the raid-healing druid who doesn’t use Swiftmend. She gets a scolding from me, but well, she’s probably in the majority. Swiftmend is currently our hardest-to-use spell, though its one of our most rewarding.

9. Regrowth, Lifebloom, Innervate
For the tank healer who does not use Swiftmend. Regrowth could substitute for Nourish based on preference. However, I can’t imagine this druid. Swiftmend is easiest to use on tanks and is our best save. Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch is nice, but it’s infrequent.

For me personally, #6 looks likely. As much as I love tank healing, the balance of healers in the guild has shifted and I’m usually needed on the raid. I am also going to try #5 and #1 if mana starts running low. I may also try out #7, but boy, would I miss Swiftmend.

Wow, we have a lot of choices. The only thing you won’t be doing is glyphing for both Regrowth and Nourish–the conditions of the glyphs contradict each other. The Nourish glyph wants you to use all your hots, including Regrowth, and finish with Nourish, while the Regrowth one encourages you to rely heavily on…guess what…Regrowth.

What are the rest of you going to glyph for in 3.1?

A Fond Farewell to Phaelia of Resto4Life

A Fond Farewell to Phaelia of Resto4Life

i-miss-phae-banner

It is a time for change for the druids of Azeroth. Patch 3.1 is at last on the horizon, tantalizing us all with thoughts of new raid bosses and daily quests to entertain our hours of sloth. However, despite the lure of the new, this is a sad day in the forests and wilds. Phaelia of Resto4Life, the greatest of all druid bloggers, has decided to retire for the happiest of reasons. I’ll let you read her big news in her own words here, but I will add my very public congratulations in this post.

A Tribute to Phaelia

Now that I sit down to try it, it is difficult to find words to express how profound Phaelia’s influence has been on me and my blogging work. I found Resto4Life when I had just started to raid seriously in BC. I had been toying with the idea of starting a druid blog myself, and gradually, reading Phaelia’s work helped me gain the confidence I needed to try writing. She exemplifies everything I love about the WoW community. Let me try, however inarticulately, to account for some of her contributions.

1. Phaelia showed us all that the blogosphere can be friendly. I know that I have experienced hateful and mean-spirited comments, both on my own posts and on others’ work. Somehow, Phaelia presents the content on her site with such grace that civil discussions have always flourished on her pages (pun intended). It has to do with Phaelia herself, I think. Phaelia’s tone exudes warmth and friendliness, and the druid community is a better place because of it. If new bloggers are looking for a style and tone to imitate, they should go to Resto4Life and start reading.

2. Phaelia helped us realize that we could be proud to be druids. In other places, I see more whining about class particularities than celebration of them. Through her wonderful artwork, both her own and the contributions from Andrige, Eggo, and other wonderful artists, druids have been able to represent themselves and witness themselves being represented in a positive way. I am personally going to buy a few more tree shirts. The one I had unfortunately got a big dribble of bleach on it the last time I cleaned. The artwork from Resto4Life is not fluffy content–in fact, it’s what I’ll miss most. I believe that symbols are important, and I don’t think being a druid would have felt as special without the artwork to remind me of it.

3. Phaelia instilled in us all a belief in the WoW blogging community. Through Blog Azeroth and meta-blogging posts on her own site, she helped many would-be bloggers, including me, get a start. I’m not always chatty myself (kind of a solitary walnut), but Phaelia reached out over google chat when I had first started posting. It meant a lot to me early on that she liked my work. I think she’s helped out very many druid bloggers and given us the confidence we needed to keep going. I think she realizes that the hardest thing to do, as a blogger, is put fingers to keys and write. Her site and the tools she gave us make that just a little bit easier.

And so, Phae, you will be much missed. I don’t think anyone will ever fill your particular shoes–and on that topic, you should all go look at Keeva’s delightful new comic. Please drop by from time to time as a reader and let us know how you and the little sprout are doing. This is an exciting time in your life!

As Pike said better than I could, we all know that our time as WoW bloggers is limited. I can see myself blogging–in some form, about something–for the rest of my life, but specific hobbies like WoW come and go. However, friendships and memories can stick with us. If the writing bug ever bites again, Phae, let us know about your new project. My experience tells me that truly talented writers like Phaelia always end up writing for publication, in some form or other.

Ghostcrawler Provides Specifics on the 3.1 Mana Regen Nerf

Ghostcrawler Provides Specifics on the 3.1 Mana Regen Nerf

crab

Phew! Priests and druids can breathe again as, today, Ghostcrawler explained the specific nature of the upcoming revision to out-of-casting mana regeneration. I’ll let the crab’s words speak for themselves, but you can read the whole interesting discussion here.

The goal is to have mana last about the same for all healers. We don’t think many players would be that interested in a style where you heal crazy good for a short period and then run OOM. How classes manage their mana varies a lot, and we are making tweaks to it for 3.1 to try and keep them in line. For example, the shadow fiend needs to be more reliable.

I am still not following the logic that Int now trumps Spirit by even more. It may have been a better stat already, but these changes shouldn’t affect it that much unless you A) skip Meditation and Intensity, or B) relied a whole lot more on OOFSR regen than the average raid healer of reasonable skill.

I will break from our normal practice and go ahead and provide the numbers, just to make sure nobody is guessing about the details when doing their estimates:

The amount of base mana regen granted has been reduced 40%. We called this “Spirit” in the notes, since most players associate OOFSR regen with Spirit, but in reality Int factors into the equation as well and we only lowered the constant, not the relative contributions of Int or Spirit. In retrospect, this probably caused more confusion than it alleviated, but mana regeneration is a fairly technical concept.

— The effects of talents that provide mana regen while casting have been increased by 67%. This includes: Arcane Meditation, Improved Spirit Tap, Intensity, Mage Armor, Meditation, Pyromaniac, and Spirit Tap. For example, Intensity and Meditation are now 17/33/50% mana regen while casting (up from 10/20/30%). For most dps classes who never got much mana from OOFSR in the first place, the results should not be noticeable. Boomkin may be a possible exception because of Innervate, and we’ll take a look at that.

This should leave mana regeneration while casting (even the contribution of Spirit) relatively unchanged, but reduce mana regeneration while not casting by 40%.

— Since paladins don’t rely on any of those abilities for mana regeneration, we lowered the healing penalty of Divine Plea to -50%. We are also likely to make Spiritual Attunement provide less mana for non-tanking paladins. We are not touching Illumination for the moment. Nor are we lowering the effects of Replenishment (though as I have suggested, it would be our likely next target if we aren’t happy with the results of these changes).

What’s the Difference?

Previously, accounts of the proposed nerf to mana regeneration were misleading. The net result is the same in either case–a reduction in the number you’ll see for regen outside of the 5-second rule–but the method is different. Blue poster Bornakk originally described the change as an adjustment to the contribution of Spirit: “To make this change, we are reducing mana regeneration granted by Spirit across the board.” Considering that statement, it’s no wonder that so many priests and druids panicked. Ghostcrawler amends this statement to the more reasonable proposition of decreasing the amount of O5SR regen we get by 40%, which is no insignificant amount, but his comment directly declares that the relative contribution of Intellect and Spirit will remain the same.

Why Does the Method Matter?

Blizzard could in fact have achieved their goal of reducing O5SR regen by reducing the contribution of spirit. At current, mana regeneration is arrived at by an equation that takes into account level, Spirit, and Intellect. For more information on this particular formula, I’ll direct you to some of Phaelia’s work on the subject–here I am in over my head. However, I can summarize. Spirit, at current, contributes more to mana regeneration than Intellect, but the formula uses them both. It has been theorized that, right now, the best mana regeneration occurs when a character has a Spirit to Intellect ratio of approximately 1:1, or perhaps 1.1:1 at higher gear levels. If the relative contribution of Spirit had been reduced, Intellect would have become, consequently, a more important factor in the equation.

But That’s Not All!

A directed nerf to Spirit would have caused other complications. After all, we don’t pick up Spirit and Intellect just for their contribution to the mana regen formula. For Priests and Druids, Spirit can affect our Spellpower and certain talents like Meditation and Intensity (which increase in-five-second-rule regen). Druids have the most reason to bet on Spirit in the Spirit-Intellect horse race. The following talents and abilities depend on Spirit: Intensity, Living Spirit, Improved Tree of Life, and Innervate. There’s a very good reason that most leather Spellpower gear prefers Spirit over mp5, which is a regen stat that does nothing but regen. Intellect, on the other hand, has become the new most-coveted stat in the healing game. It increases the size of one’s mana pool as it has always done, and it plays the same role in the regen formula that it has since patch 2.4. However, the size of the mana pool used to matter less than it does currently. Replenishment returns mana based on a percentage of total intellect–thus, we now have a way to refill those giant mana pools. Most healers believe that Replenishment made its way into the game to facilitate caster dps, and I agree, but without it, healer regen would be somewhat less than extraordinary. In my opinion, the devs made an excellent choice when they decided to keep Spirit and Intellect’s relative contributions the same as they are now–otherwise, Intellect would have gained popularity just like a runaway train on a downward slope gains speed.

Do I have to Re-Gear and Re-Gem?

The jury is still out on this one. If the nerf had been directly to Spirit, you certainly would have. You might have even had to throw away your Spirit trinkets–the Spirit-World Glass and the Majestic Dragon Figurine–which would have been a shame. All the Naxx Spirit gear might have suddenly seemed like an unwise purchase. It is true that Intellect is probably already the stronger stat. As such, as mana regen becomes tougher, and you become faced with needing to add more Intellect or more Spirit, you might choose Intellect–if you have a choice. For example, I might still pick the Darkmoon Card Greatness: Intellect over the Spirit version. I’ll also be heading to the PTR with a stack of pure Intellect gems in order to get a sense of whether re-gemming is in order. It does not seem, however, that mp5 will be gaining much status. It’s already the downtrodden healer stat of Wrath, and I expect it to make only slight gains now. You won’t throw away your Spirit gems for mp5, after all, though you probably won’t turn down a necklace or ring with mp5 instead of Spirit once 3.1 hits.

Conspiracy Theories

How is it that two such very different accounts of the nerf have appeared? In my mind, one of two things must have happened.

1. The devs think we’re really stupid. This is the cause that GC hints at in his post. They might not realize that the community, as a whole, is very educated about their game and how it works. I’ve known that Intellect plays a part in my regen ever since 2.4 hit. If this is the case, I’d like to express my disappointment. To use an analogy from my own life, I get better results in my college classes when I treat my students like adults, capable of grappling with complex issues, than when I treat them like children who can only absorb one simple idea at a time. I’d never tell my students that Columbus “discovered” America. That’s an hour lecture on who encountered what and what it means to “explore” new lands that are already full of people.

2. They changed their mind. The devs might have realized that the current spirit-heavy druid and priest gear would become irrelevant. Rather than having to revisit all of those items which play up Spirit, it seemed far easier in the end to keep Spirit and Intellect in balance. It would probably have made people really angry to have to try extreme methods–like using the wrong armor type, or regemming for straight +Intellect regardless of bonuses–to get a competent level of regen with the gear currently available. If so, congrats to them. If they never admit to a change in thinking, I wouldn’t be surprised. All it means is that someone on that team has a few brain cells to rub together. I’ve never been one to think the devs are stupid–they’re just sometimes slow to anticipate the community’s reaction. Being a part of the WoW community, I’m much closer to that reaction and can guess it pretty accurately. If they changed their method of attack on the OFSR regen, they just made a really smart call.

In any case, I am one relieved druid as of today.

Raiding and the Bench

Raiding and the Bench

bench
Deciding who raids and who sits out on any given night is the second-most unpleasant task any raid leader or organizer has to face. (The most unpleasant, of course, will always be loot distribution). From a player’s perspective, it really sucks to ride the pine pony when you had been expecting to raid. However, maintaining a healthy bench is necessary for both raiders and guild masters alike–your bench players are the people you count on to get you through the bad times. As we all must know by now, in any human enterprise you cannot expect to succeed if your plans hinge on achieving a best case scenario every time. There will be ups and downs in any competitive activity, and the game plan has to account for that.

The Bench and Sports

I know I personally have bad memories of sitting bench from high school sports. During my sophomore year of high school, I was allowed to play on both the junior varsity and varsity volleyball squads. This meant that I got two sets of ill-fitting, 1970s-era uniforms, double the practice time, and, guess what? Almost no playing time on the varsity team. Whenever I hear the word “bench” now, I shudder, remembering that experience. However, high school athletes sit the bench faithfully, hoping that someday, somehow, next year, their turn will come. As for volleyball, mine never did–I didn’t even try out the next year. That’s always a risk with the bench. You may never move up.

Raiding with a Bench

In theory, high-end raiding guilds are run by grownups, and sitting bench doesn’t have to be the humiliating experience that many of us remember from high school. We can all share and share alike, right? Wrong. Perhaps because of our high school traumas, many raiders feel territorial about their raid spots, and people may not always volunteer to sit when too many players log on to raid. What you have to do, in the WoW context, is overcome the idea that only inferior players sit bench. That’s not true. Players sit bench for many reasons–class balance, space, attendance, etc. It’s usually not just a question of who’s better, as it almost always is in high school. How can a GM or raid leader manage this situation? The following tips should help a guild master or raid leader keep the bench under control without bruising too many feelings.

1. Have Thoughtful Recruiting Goals

The first line of defense against bench trouble is a thoughtful recruiting plan. You do have to recruit more than 25 players for a 25-person raiding team. A good goal is approximately 15% more, or 4 extra raiders. These 29 players should all have equal ranking and equal access to raid spots. In a guild with typical attendance (75%), most raids will be exclusively composed of these 29 people, and only rarely will any of them have to sit bench. Make sure that sitting bench is part of your guild culture. Your raiders should expect that their number will come up once in a while. If you have far too many raiders at present, I have a piece of advice that doesn’t seem particularly proactive–just wait. Don’t gkick a bunch of your players or tell them there isn’t room. In the virtual world, balance changes in the blink of an eye, and there are always people leaving raiding, or the game as a whole. Any time you’re not recruiting, your guild is shrinking, and you can can just wait until the numbers come into balance.

2. Institute a Substitute Rank

Typical raider attendance, which I ballparked at 75%, can drop much lower in hard times. We’re in a difficult spot right now in WoW, with the Wrath content feeling stale to many high-end raiders and Ulduar still many weeks away. If your guild hasn’t had any roster shakeups in the last few weeks, you’re highly atypical. In order to get through the bad times, you may want to institute a substitute rank in your guild. In Conquest, Subs are players who are well-qualified to raid all content but typically joined at a time when we weren’t recruiting their class for permanent spots. Some Subs simply have more time constraints than our raiding policy allows for–often one or two raids per week is just fine for them, and they remain very happy at this rank. Many Subs joined Conquest for social reasons, but some became members of the guild hoping for an opportunity to move into the Raider rank. This has happened for very many of our Subs over the last few weeks as people’s interests have taken them in different directions. I am always happy to see a dedicated Sub get promoted. Of course, sometimes a Sub will move on to a different guild that has a permanent spot for them–to me, that’s great too, because it means that the player is closer to meeting their in-game goals.
If your guild uses a Substitute rank, it offers you a sort of pre-recruiting option. You will be able to promote from within when vacancies occur. After all, you never know when one of your players will disappear without a word. In the anonymous virtual world, this happens all too often. Thus, it’s in your best interest as GM to keep a list of subs and keep them happy. How to do this? Invite them on farm raids, 10-mans, Vault of Archavon, etc–whatever your guild’s more laid-back events happen to be, and give them a prize for their efforts. Most Subs will get loot naturally as many drops from farm content will go uncontested.

3. Have an Attendance Policy

My experience with attendance policies, both as a professor and as a raider, is that people tend to ignore them. They’re only usually enforced in the limit cases. I may have a policy on my books that says I lower a student’s grade after 3 absences, but I’m not likely to actually do it until they have 7 or 8. Despite this tendency, you need to put some kind of attendance policy on your books. It is true that it is not practical to demote someone who has 72% attendance when your policy says they need 75%. Yet, attendance figures should factor into some of the tough decisions that you might make as a leader. For example, if you need to bench one of your 29 raiders for an Obsidian Sanctum 3 drakes raid, and your choice comes down to two dps players, one with 70% attendance and one with 90%, let 90% guy have the spot. If your guild uses loot council, let attendance factor into the decision-making process. If you do enforce your attendance policy in any way, you ought to track it via your guild’s website so that people can see how they stand relative to each other. Matticus recently found a great way to do this for Conquest through EQDKP plus. As a raider, it’s a good reality check. I can see that I have 83% attendance, which is actually lower than I thought I had. I had forgotten that I took time off at Christmas. These sorts of selective blindness can have raiders thinking that decisions are unfair or arbitrary. It’s always good to see the actual numbers.

4. Keep Your Members Educated

The degree of success your guild has with the bench problem will depend almost entirely on how you communicate the matter to your raiders. Make sure that players know how attendance will be assessed and what will be expected of them. If you have a raider rank, get those players used to the idea of sitting out once in a while. In Conquest, those decisions are made based on the advantages/disadvantages of certain classes and specs in specific encounters. However, we try not to bench the same person too often. Sitting the bench is a responsibility everyone–even officers–should share. Another good policy is to ask for volunteers, especially if it’s a farm raid and class balance isn’t so crucial. Sometimes there’s a player who really just wants to go to bed. If so, be sure to thank them when you move a player into their spot. To me, a thanks from the raid leader or guild leader means a lot.

Conclusions

As the GM or raid leader, you can never entirely eliminate the bench problem. You can never recruit the exact perfect number for all situations, and you can never enforce any attendance policy so strictly that you will never fall short of filling a raid. I think it’s far better to have too many than too few show up to raid. If you’d like to keep your raiders healthy and happy, on bench and off, make sure to have clear policies that you enforce fairly. Make sure that many different players share the bench burden. When people see this happening, for the most part they will accept an occasional sideline, knowing that it won’t happen to them every raid, every time.

Girls Hate Chuck Norris: On Women and Raiding Guilds

Girls Hate Chuck Norris: On Women and Raiding Guilds

hearts

This article, including the title, is inspired by some of the comments on yesterday’s post from Matticus about gauging the success of raiding guilds. I thought that the issue of women and raiding, which appears on the original checklist, deserved its own post. However, I am quite aware that every time a blogger makes a post about gender and raiding, he or she gets excoriated in the comments. Gender issues–and more particularly, women’s experience in WoW–has a tendency to cause temperatures to rise. On the one hand, some commenters protest that there’s no gender-influenced experience in the game. Men and women play exactly the same way, and after all, women are just men with boobs. Still others complain about the bad behavior of women players, claiming that they’re princesses, bitches, or femmes fatales who love to take advantage of gullible men. Another group, mostly women posters, laments the poor treatment they’ve received in the past. I do realize what the comments for this post will look like, but I’m going to give you my take on the gender issue anyway. After all, I didn’t start blogging because I don’t like to speak my mind!

First off, I’ll tell you my overall stance on the issue. I would like to forward the radical notion that women raiders are people. By this, I mean that they are multi-faceted, flawed, and idiosyncratic, just like male raiders. However, women and men are not the same, neither in the game nor in life. We are each influenced by our culture, and how culture treats each of us has a lot to do with gender.

However, I also think that WoW is unique in that it lets us perform–or not perform–our biological sex as we like. I do, by the way, subscribe to Judith Butler’s notion that gender, in general, is performative. By this I mean that what men are, and what women are, is a collection of behaviors that individuals may or may not subscribe to. It is possible, if difficult, in society to “perform” a gender that does not conform to one’s biological sex. In WoW, it is incredibly easy to do so–after all, how many men play women characters? This doesn’t make them weird–they are just taking advantage of one of the fun and imaginative aspects of gameplay. Women occasionally roll male toons as well. I know I personally used to borrow Briolante at level 60 because I liked tanking more than healing and was too lazy to level a warrior of my own. All this is to say that virtual environments like WoW allow us to have a more abstracted approach to gender performance. We can perform differently though our avatars, through guild chat, and through vent–and all of this adds up to some really interesting situations.

At some point, I think I’ll do a whole post on men who play women characters, but for today, I’m really interested in whether women ACT like stereotypical women in the game, and how they go about doing so.

In order to really explore this question, I’d like to look at some of the most common generalizations about women in WoW and share how I respond to each of these issues. I’m not trying to be representative of all women here–as always, I only represent myself. Take from it what you will.

Stereotype #1 Women Are Bad Players

I have put this stereotype at the top of my list because to me, it’s the least true of all. This idea comes from a cultural bias. It’s true enough that video games aren’t often considered toys for little girls, and many women raiders (including me) probably grew up watching our brothers play video games. But you know what? I can sure as hell play WoW now. The #1 thing that gets my goat in terms of stereotypes about girl gamers is the idea that I can’t play my toon because I have boobs. Maybe they get in the way? I’ll assure you, it’s not a problem for me or any of the other girl raiders I know. Estrogen doesn’t cause my addons to fail, and it sure doesn’t entice me to turn with the keyboard. The truth is that there are good and bad players of both genders. Women might be slightly more noticed when they lack skill because that’s what people expect. There’s a natural human bias toward finding examples that correspond to one’s expectations. That doesn’t mean that the old hackneyed ideas are correct–far from it.

Stereotype #2 Women Get Offended Easily

I’ve followed up the least true stereotype with the one that is most true, especially in the context of WoW. Women’s experience of the world is a little different from men’s. A lot of us face gender-related challenges at home or in the workplace. I know I’ve been treated differently all my life–by parents, college, work, relationships–than my brother, and we’re really similar in ability, personality, and upbringing. I can’t generalize what kinds of behaviors bother all women, but I will share the things that do and do not annoy me in-game.

1. Epeen
Some people think women are offended by in-game boasting, but I don’t mind. I’m not sure if I’m typical or not for a woman raider, but I do think that I’m not a participant in the all-boys-big-epeen-club. I don’t mind it, though. When the boys are jockeying for position on the meters, or for the main tank spot, I think that’s funny, maybe even charming. It’s good to have something to strive for.

2. Foul language
I’m not bothered by foul language. Most of those 4-letter words don’t offend me at all, because they refer to things that are universal. For example, anyone can be an asshole, regardless of gender, religion, social class, or race. Therefore, it’s ok by me to see that word–and a host of others that Matt wouldn’t let me write on the blog–in guild or raid chat.

3. Discriminatory or harrassing language
On the other hand, I am extremely upset by racial or religious slurs, and also by “rape” comments directed at female bosses. I don’t like anti-gay language at all either. I think for me, the language question is all about whether it’s hurtful to somebody specific. However, I’m not offended by this type of language because I’m a woman. It’s my life experiences–my job, my friends, my politics–that make me think the way I do about discrimination. It has nothing to do with gender.

4. Being treated like a sex object
I almost never have to deal with this problem. I am never flirtatious in guild chat or whispers, and it annoys me when women behave that way. I’d rather not have my raiding–or instancing, or whatever–be about sex in any way shape or form. But the few times someone–always someone I don’t know–has made a lewd comment to me have really pissed me off. Mild flirting is ok, and I can see how it could certainly enhance a single woman’s experience of the game, but I make it pretty clear to my guildmates that I’m taken.

Stereotype #3: Women are troublemakers

I will amend this one to people are troublemakers. I’ve seen men whine over meaningless things, and I’ve seen women do it to. I’ve seen both genders start dumb arguments over nothing, and I’ve witnessed both genders do their part to break up guilds. WoW players have a tendency to QQ, whether on the official forums or in guild chat. It has very little to do with any certain demographic.

Stereotype #4 Women hate each other

We’ve all seen those tv shows where catty women waggle their fingers and scream at each other without apparent cause. I think that women raiders tend to get along quite a bit better than that–or at least, we’re polite on the surface. I don’t know quite what it is, but competition style does seem to me to be influenced by gender. The men post damage meters, and the women make snide remarks to each other about other women. I’ve met and played alongside women who consider WoW a boys’ club with room for exactly one girl. That’s not me. I feel a lot of solidarity for other women players and I am much more likely to promote and encourage them than criticize them. I don’t get jealous or competitive with other women–I want them to keep playing, more than anything else, so I don’t have to break into the All Boys Treehouse–No Girls Allowed.

Stereotype #5 Women want free stuff

I see this one pretty often, and it really puzzles me. I consider men and women equal. I expect to pay full price for everything I get or buy. I don’t want preference on loot, and I don’t want free money. Now, if you want to give me some greens because I’m leveling enchanting and giving free enchants to guildies on the way up, awesome! I’ll take them with thanks. But if you send me a gift because I’m a woman? I’m sending that crap right back. I have to think that most of the stories of women getting free loot/gold are the virtual equivalent of urban legends. Sure, somewhere there was a basis in truth, but it’s not a widespread occurrence.

Stereotype #6 Women love cute things

Hearts. Puppies. Rainbows. Flowers. Hugs. Lolcats. Yes, I adore these things. And it’s not just me! In my former guild, Eieldin, a female hunter, had a very enviable collection of non-combat pets–before everyone was collecting them. Jesmin, also of my former guild, told even more cat stories than I do. However, I am of the opinion that deep down, everyone loves cute. The object of our adoration may vary, but everyone has a soft spot. What was the one thing that convinced me that Kimbo, Conquest’s raid leader, had to be a nice guy underneath the gruff exterior? He owns a cat. In terms of the game, I play for aesthetics during my casual time. I dress up my bank alts in pretty dresses, and I get a lot of haircuts on my lowbie characters, but you know what? All of that goes out the window when I’m raiding. I put away my little dragons and kitties, shift into Rotten Broccoli form, and get down to business. During downtime, though, I’ll be asking Kimbo about the latest thing his cat did. Kimbo’s cat is awesome.

Conclusions

One of the things I appreciate about Conquest is that, rude and crude as some of the boys are, I’m not treated like a sex object or a giant bitch. In fact, I’m neither. I am myself, full of quirks and foibles. I can do my job a well as anyone else can. The great thing about WoW, and gaming in general, is that men and women have equal potential. Performance in the game doesn’t come down to upper body strength, and all of us can learn how to play our characters at a very high level if we want to put in effort and time. It saddens me that some people have preconceived notions about women gamers, especially when the game world does such a nice job of leveling the playing field. Our virtual representations, our avatars, erase differences–they blur out class, race, religion, creed, and even gender. Heck, the slang and leetspeak so commonly seen in WoW even erase differences in education. You never know who’s behind the computer, and I like it that way. Here’s hoping that the potential for equality someday becomes a reality, if not in WoW, in the next generation of MMOs.