All told, it was an eventful week. It started off by me queuing into heroic Stonecore with the Mage for the first time and at first it looked like it was going to be One Of Those Runs because we wiped on Corborus due to the fact that I didn’t know I was supposed to AoE the little crystals he spits. We did take him down on the second try only to have the party wipe again just inside Corborus’ tunnel on the Crystalspawn Giants because… well, I’m not really sure because I was still back on Corborus’ corpse trying to decide if there was any way I could work around the Bind on Pickup aspect of Phosphorescent Ring so I could mail it to my Warrior, who I believe is wearing a couple of twigs of Peacebloom twisted together in his ring slot. By the time I got to the scene of the crime, Marg Helgenberger was already there, making darkly ironic quips through artificially inflated, oh-so-shiny lips and all I could do was pop Invisibility and wait for Roger Daltrey.
I fully expected the tank and everyone to ragequit after that but surprisingly we carried on and headed down to fight Slabhide who is notorious in regular Stonecore for being a) a really boring fight and b) having middling loot. On heroic Slabhide isn’t that much more exciting but when we brought him down suddenly Reins of the Vitreous Stone Drake popped up and my breath caught. This thing has a ludicrously low drop rate (~0.9%) and, well, I know I haven’t been playing for that long compared to people who have been in since launch (or before) but the truth is it was really starting to weigh heavily on my conscious that I didn’t have a cooler mount than the janky Swift Purple Wind Rider that any Tom, Dick or Garrosh can pick up for a few gold at Wind Riderz R’ Us. It didn’t seem possible that a gift like this would land in my lap so I hit “Need” without thinking about it.
This was immediately followed by a sharp stab of guilt as I wondered if it etiquette dictated that these kinds of drops were “Greed” only or something. Fortunately my panic was short-lived as I saw everyone else in the party select “Need” as well, at which point my heart sank. Nuffle has never been kind to me and the odds of even seeing this drop were incredibly low, to think that I might actually have a chance to…
I actually didn’t even get to finish my lamentation before I saw the magical words: “You have received Reins of the Vitreous Stone Drake.” I was so stunned I didn’t even think to check to see what my roll had been (it wasn’t 100 because I would have gotten the achievement). I do know that the tank rolled a 1, because he was so bitter about it. He had us in stitches complaining that there ought to be a new achievement that popped up whenever you rolled a 1 on a “Need” roll for an epic loot item. He even had a great name for it: Epic Fail. I thought it was winning, but it was easy to be amused because I got the drake.
And oh how sweet she is.
It Has How Many Buttons?
The other exciting event was that my Razer Naga MMO mouse finally arrived (sort 0f) via UPS. Actually, for the second time in as many years I managed to deliver something ordered online to the wrong address: In both cases to addresses that I lived at previously. At least I don’t move very far so since our old apartment is only about ten minutes up the road I was able to drive over and knock on the door and implore a kind but bewildered old stranger to give me back my package.
My original intent behind the purchase was to have the 12 grid buttons act as Yet Another Hotbar. In reality the grid actually mimics either the number row on the keyboard or the number pad on the right side of an extended keyboard which is not exactly what I thought it would be but the mouse is phenomenal for other reasons.
For one thing the feel of the mouse is spectacular, and Razer’s worksmanship is top notch. There is an intentional slope from the right side to the left on the top surface which both permits the button grid enough room for the buttons to be a comfortable size (I was a little afraid they might be too small for my clumsy thumb) as well as forcing that thumb to over in a relaxed position over the pad. The scroll wheel has a great soft click to it and the left and right mouse buttons are snappy and responsive. There are two rocker-type buttons along the top ridge of the left click button which I like because they work better when mapped to zoom-in, zoom-out than the mouse wheel and that frees the wheel to hold a primary nuke spam macro (which I am totally going to use as soon as I have enough time in-game to fiddle with the macro editor instead of, you know, playing the game).
The 5600dpi laser is comically overpowered as the mouse is so responsive at the highest setting it takes the sort of slow precision usually reserved for disarming unstable explosive devices to click on anything smaller than 600×600 pixels, but at about 60% the mouse is manageable but wildly responsive (so much so that I get kind of sad when I have to use my laptop’s built in mouse or a standard USB cheapo) which makes mouselooking as natural as glancing over your shoulder.
Now, as for that button grid, the other down side is that the included Naga WoW Add-on is not compatible with my hotbar manager of choice, Bartender 4. My only option was to disable Bartender and I was reluctant to do that which meant the custom mapping wasn’t going to work very well. So what I ended up doing was adding a previously neglected vertical hotbar and assigning what had previously been awkward two-modifier hotkeys to it to do things that wear out my fingers otherwise but are now as easy as my primary spells mapped to 1, 2, 3, etc. Basically I have Alt-Shift-NumpadN mapped to my mounts, fishing skill, archaeology’s Survey and other non-combat-critical spells, menus and abilities that make life in Azeroth easier and quicker without having to re-learn how to play all over (again).
So far I’m very happy with the purchase and my next step is that on my Paladin alt (where I haven’t set up a Bartender profile) I plan to actually try disabling the Bartender and using the Razer AddOn to see how it works.
For I Will Fear No Heals
The other round of excitement was that I finally hit level 15 on the Shaman and grew sufficient stones to try my hand at an instance in the healer role. It was a bit of a rocky start as we entered Ragefire Chasm and I fumbled with the base mechanics of selecting friendly units as opposed to enemies and let the tank die during an early pull. There was some talk that I may have fallen asleep but I assure you it was false and I was awake and alert the whole time, just woefully inept. I did explain that it was my first healing run and they calmly re-adjusted their expectations and things went much smoother after that. It helps a lot that the low-level instances are really quite easy to do and often there is not much healing to be done anyway (especially for certain tanks with self-healing abilities).
As usual with alts a lot of my early problems seem to revolve around a tendency I have to skim ability descriptions and miss key facets of them which causes confusion when things don’t behave like I expect them to. Exhibit A in the case of the Shaman is Earth Shield which my brief glace over indicated was some kind of pushback mitigation effect: Nice but sort of situationally useful. Turns out at low levels it’s a core healing ability since, when cast on the tank, it does a lot of the healing for you which leaves you free to pick up the loot off the dead bodies since the party will never, ever, ever wait for you to loot corpses before executing the next pull but will totally blame you for any kind of wipe or death incurred as a result of you filling your pockets instead of facilitating the Rogue’s utter insistence to stand in the frakking fire for the whole fight.
By the way, did I mention I now understand why all those healers I’ve grouped with over the last several months were so touchy and defensive?
For something that I thought was going to be utterly boring I’m surprised to find myself really enjoying playing a healer. My strategy to level exclusively through instances is working pretty well so far (it really helps that I have a 35% XP boost from my heirloom set and my guild has the Fast Track perk which means I’m earning 45% extra XP all the time) especially since it means I rarely have to wander far from the profession vendors and trainers. Occasionally it has been tempting to go farm mats, especially for Tailoring but I figured I have level 85s who can use their swift flying mounts to do that even better and faster so at one point I sent my Mage over into the Redridge mountains to blow up gnolls and pick up green items to disenchant plus cloth to send over to assist with the Tailoring grind. I almost felt bad for the gnolls though since they kept respawning and it took barely a flick of my wrist to light them on fire; it was taking more time to loot their corpses than to create the corpses to begin with. The respawn rate made it seem like they just kept sending more and more soldiers after me in utter futility and I felt like I needed to track down their leader and have a friendly chat with him:
Mage: Hey, you know, I can do this all day. It’s not even denting my mana pool.
Gnoll Tribe Leader: Grah! We will never surrender!
Mage: Hey, is that garment you’re wearing made of… wool?
For a bit there I was questioning whether it was really such a great idea for me to be doing Tailoring on the Shaman since it almost seemed like Leatherworking would have been a better choice owing to the fact that I actually wear leather armor. I knew it was weird when I started actually wearing some of the cloth armor I was making because stat-wise cloth tends to be heavier on the healer-friendly Intellect and Spirit than leather which I presume is often laden with Agility because that stat benefits Hunters, Rogues and DPS Shaman who all wear leather. But as I’ve gone on I’ve realized that Tailoring was the right way to go because it ties nicely into Enchanting, giving me a steady supply of level-appropriate greens to disenchant for dust and shards. I have been a bit annoyed to discover that later Tailoring recipes call for specific mats that are outside the purview of collecting cloth off dead dungeon denizens (like leather which is required for a lot of useful Tailored items in the Expert level) which has made me consider adding another alt to my growing rotation (my Skinning/Leatherworking Hunter). However, it’s starting to feel like I’m a player (playa?—I’m not certain of the parlance) whose gotten himself in over his head trying to juggle too many booty calls at once and is now afraid they’re all going to find out about each other at once and form some kind of lynch mob. Only in my case it’s not a matter of anyone finding anything out but of my brain exploding from trying to remember the mechanics of five or six classes at once and it’s not a lynch mob but an angry wife who will call Blizzard and tell them to put me on the account blacklist because I’m getting twitchy if I don’t log in for longer than 24 hours and attend to my menagerie of alts.
Um. What was I talking about?
The other minor accomplishment on the professions front was that I finally worked my Paladin over to Silvermoon City and found the trainer for Inscription so I could mill some of the herbs I’d been sending in bulk from my World Explorer farming runs. Incidentally, I did finish up that achievement early in the week since I only had a handful of zones left to go. It was kind of nice to at last get a title on the Mage but it seemed very overshadowed in significance to the drake acquisition. Anyway, i suppose I should have realized that low-level Inscriptioning was more about creating meh scrolls than awesome glyphs but I don’t have any toons at the moment who are really dying for glyphs so it’s not much of a problem yet. The bigger issue is going to be finding the motivation to level the Paladin sufficiently to get to that stage since thus far (ahem—I guess it is only level 5) she’s kind of a snoozefest. Incidentally, when my yet-unnamed band puts out it’s first album, it will be titled “She’s Kind of a Snoozefest.” Part of me wonders if I wouldn’t be more inclined to get further with the professions I’ve marked out for her if I did them on a Death Knight which at least could avoid a lot of the early grinding to the dungeon queue stage and just profession level to a pretty advanced stage without having to do any level grinding at all. It’s worth considering especially since I’m already sick of watching that grinchy little elf do her stupid spin jump. What is that? There is no practical reason to ever spin on your vertical axis when you jump in the air unless you’re engaged in an Olympic competition of some sort. And even then, it’s only worth—what?—half a point?
I do need to make a decision though because what typically stops me from making progress and/or doing things in the right way is my disdain for re-doing work that I’ve already done (like farming the same number of Peaceblooms for ink milling). Granted I need to go farm more low-level herbs anyway since I didn’t have as many as I thought but still. The point being that before I go ahead and add Jewelcrafting to the Paladin I need to decide once and for all if she’s going to be a legitimate alt or someone I abandon because it turns out I didn’t really want to be tied down to a family after all and my wanderlust has gotten the better of me, resulting in several decades of tragic, drug-fueled consequences and material for a half dozen heartbroken country and/or rebellious riot grrl albums.
What? Oh, no. Never mind that. I was thinking of a different interaction. In this case I’d just mail all her bank slots to a different toon and delete her. But I would write a heartbroken riot grrl album about it, because that sounds pretty awesome to me.