Change and Leadership

I remarked on Twitter tonight that it’s awfully strange to go from raiding around 15 hours a week throughout the majority of the expansion to raiding for just over 2 hours a week. It really is strange.

The reason I’m only raiding 2 hours a week is because of two reasons:

1) I’m no longer raiding with Choice
2) Apotheosis is full-clearing 8/8 HM in about two hours

Let’s talk about the first point.

I left Choice just after 4.0 hit.

They struggled a bit in T11 content, mostly due to healing issues.

So I did a stupid thing. I rolled another paladin. It actually came from Matt’s idea to clone myself so I could heal for him and I was like “BUT WAIT. CHOICE NEEDS A HEALER.” So I applied and I started raiding with them in early June.

For over a year, I raided three times a week with Apotheosis and twice a week with Choice. I got a little burnt towards the end, but that’s due to other factors, not playing “so much”. While 15 hours a week for me is probably a bit much, 12 hours a week would have been nice. Anyhow, I don’t regret it. I do not recommend doing what I did (raiding with two progression guilds simultaneously, in essence), but damn me, did I ever get GOOD at fights in Firelands and Dragon Soul! Double the chance each week to refine and better my performances, double the chance to learn how to do something. I got REAL good at Heroic Alysrazor, I was reliable on Heroic Majordomo and basically just knew what I was doing all throughout both those tiers. It felt really good.

Like I said, though, I can’t recommend it. It’s tiring, it can be frustrating and sometimes it’s nice to have a real night off. But I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t do it again, mind you, but it worked well for me.

So why am I no longer raiding with them? Well, after some weeks of being stuck on Heroic Spine and such, combined with weeks of fighting the attendance boss, Choice decided to go to a 10-man format. Fugara knows I loathe 10s, so she basically wrote me off the list. That’s right, I was cut! ;) But I let them know I wasn’t interested in continuing in a 10-man format anyhow, but that I’d stick around for two resets on Wednesdays and Mondays for them, in case of attendance issues/etc.

I did a few solid hours of H Spine and H Madness progression (both on 10m, of course) and good gravy, it totally reinforced how I hate 10s…

That said, I stopped raiding with them last week — and they promptly got H Madness, so grats to them. :)

And now to address the second point: Apotheosis is clearing 8/8 HM in about two hours a week. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still spending a LOT of time with this whole transition thing, though. With me stepping down as GM, Raid Leader and basically the recruitment person, plus Majik stepping down as caster lead… yeah.

We’ve decided that Jasyla will be the new guild master of Apotheosis. Sara will be the recruitment officer. Slout will be the new caster lead. And we’ve gotten Chronis to be the new tank lead (a position left unfilled since Dayden stopped tanking for us back in Firelands).

Sara, Slout and Chronis got promoted on Tuesday before the raid and the raid basically proceeded normally. We’ve got a meeting on Thursday for the role officers and we’ve got some new lootmaster shenanigans to handle on Sunday evening, so I have stuff going on.

But all I’m thinking, now that we have a solid launch date and an equally-solid end-of-raiding date, is that “hey, there’s one more lockout done. Just five to go.” We’re going to stop raiding for the expansion after the reset of September 4th is finished. Since we’re clearing in two hours or so, that means just five more Apotheosis raids.

It’s sad. I mean, it’s good, but it’s sad, too. Not exactly bittersweet, but I’m making a huge change in my life by not being a GM and not raiding in the expansion. It’ll be a good thing for me, personally. This job… well, this hobby, really, has become a more-than-full-time job over the last couple of years. Two years ago, I was psyched and excited about rebuilding my guild and bringing my people back home to Eldre’Thalas.

Now, I’m kind of sad that I won’t be a part of the guild’s future success. I’m kind of wistful that I’ve already accomplished most of the game-related things of which I’ll be proudest. There aren’t any real new adventures awaiting me in Mists of Pandaria. I’ll level Kurn to 90 (may not even bother with the paladin, to be honest!) and see what fun can be had, but no more raiding seriously and, most dramatically, no more leading.

Dramatic? Yes, it’s a big change. I’ve been leading stuff since April of 2006, with a short break while in Choice and a shorter break in a guild with my RL Friend the Resto Druid. What the eff am I going to do with myself with no one to lead? With no goals to strive for?

I’ve always called myself a reluctant leader. I’ve always said that if a group is being led well, I’m more than happy to follow. I used to mean that, but I’m realizing, more and more, that people are usually, in my opinion, doing it wrong. And that means that I feel obliged to step up. I strongly feel that even if I wanted to continue raiding in Mists (which I don’t), I wouldn’t be able to stay in Apotheosis, because my mouth would get me in trouble. (ETA: Not that I think that the new leadership team is going to do badly — quite the opposite — but because I was ALWAYS biting my tongue in Choice, even when things worked out well for them and I’m not sure I could bite my tongue if I disagreed with the leadership in Apotheosis. Which I don’t even know would happen.)

I need to let go. I need to let the new leaders of the guild do things the way they want to do it and be thankful that anyone is crazy dedicated enough to take up the job that I’m leaving. I’m sure I’ll be able to do that, in the coming weeks. With just five more lockouts, it’s inevitable that more and more responsibility will shift from me to the other officers. (ETA: And so far, things have been pretty smooth. I don’t anticipate much in the way of drama or issues.)

And soon, it’ll be time for me to be demoted to the dreaded Member rank, which people are only ever demoted to (or grandfathered into).

Yet, there’s so much to do between now and then. And lots of blog posts to write. :) Stay tuned!

PS: I’m doing a Holy Paladin Roundtable with Megacode, Joe Ego, Ophelie and Chase Christian this Saturday! Email Mega your questions at: healingspec (at) gmail.com!

There’s been talk recently about having account-wide achievements in Mists of Pandaria and it leaves me (and I suspect many others) unsure as to how to feel about this.

I am not the only person who raids with a different character now than she did in Vanilla or Burning Crusade or Wrath or even earlier this expansion. Kurnmogh, my hunter, hasn’t seriously raided current content on a regular basis since Vanilla. I managed to get in for the Tidewalker kill in SSC on the hunter, as well as the Gorefiend kill in Black Temple, but, by and large, since Burning Crusade, I’ve been healing in 25-man raids, while farming and doing silly things on my hunter.

That means that while I still have a huge attachment to Kurn (obviously), all my raiding achievements (and titles) are on Madrana.

It took me a bit of time to accept this, especially the title part of it. I was not so pleased to miss out on getting Hand of A’dal on Kurn, while I was thrilled to get it at all.

As the years went by, the achievements, titles and mounts started piling up on Madrana. Hand of A’dal. Twilight Vanquisher. Astral Walker. Kingslayer. Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25). Defender of a Shattered World. Glory of the Firelands Raider. Destroyer’s End. All of them gotten while the content was current, except for Astral Walker, gotten during Tier 9 content.

In the meantime, Kurn got all the holiday titles and even managed to get the Baron’s mount. Kurn managed to snag of the Nightfall in T10 gear and also got Kingslayer, and Defender of a Shattered World but most of those came when it wasn’t current or was heavily nerfed (30% buff in ICC, zerging Sarth 3D 10-man for fun, post-nerf T11 content).

And then there’s the OTHER holy paladin. I am the same player playing that holy paladin, Madrana of Skywall, as I am playing Madrana of Eldre’Thalas. Madrana of Eldre’Thalas WAS Madrana of Skywall for about six months at the end of Wrath. But the current Madrana of Skywall is a new toon, the baby pally, I call her. She hasn’t earned anything.

I lie, she’s got “the Patient”, “Kingslayer” and “Destroyer’s End” (and the Kingslayer was because I helped out a group of guildies get the Been Waiting a Long Time achievement on LK, then got the kill and the title).

But just because I haven’t earned anything of note, really, on the baby pally, does that mean I’m not capable of having done so? No, because I clearly did all that on the OTHER Madrana.

It makes my head hurt.

So I’m going to say that no, I don’t think achievements should be account-wide. For me, my achievements show a very clear snapshot of what I was doing at a certain time in my WoW career. It reads like a resumé. I am so very proud of so many of my achievements and titles and mounts that I got on Madrana. While it would be nice to have them accessible to me on the baby pally, or ride my Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher or Corrupted Egg of Millagazor on Kurn, it seems inauthentic.

Terribly strange, isn’t it? I mean, they’re MY achievements, MY titles, MY mounts, but I feel if I didn’t earn them with a specific character, that character shouldn’t get to benefit from them. (Conversely, this does not mean I don’t think arcanums should continue to be account-bound, but that’s more because I’m lazy and hate rep grinds, not because of anything larger.)

I guess it comes down to what do those achievements, titles and mounts mean to me? I find the idea of being able to wear the “Hand of A’dal” title on Kurn to be, well, devaluing the work and time I put in on the Lady Vashj and Kael’thas fights on Madrana. I know, it’s weird.

But let’s take account-wide achievements a step further to maybe illustrate my point.

The baby pally has 525 cooking, as do Kurn and Madrana of Eldre’Thalas. Both Kurn and Madrana of ET have the Chef’s Hat. Having not spent two years in Wrath of the Lich King content, the baby paladin never got 100 Dalaran Cooking Awards and never was able to buy the Chef’s Hat. (WTB one of these for each profession, by the way.) This means that the baby pally’s hearth is currently in Dalaran so she can do cooking dailies efficiently (and also take the CoT port from Dal to get down to Dragon Soul quickly) and I’m at a woeful 52 tokens. (No, she doesn’t have high enough fishing either to do the Dalaran Fishing Dailies in the hopes of a Waterlogged Recipe, either.)

Should I need to grind that up to 100 to get the hat? I have it on two characters, already, shouldn’t I just be able to send that along? In a world where my level 5 bank alt could potentially wear the Hand of A’dal title, why on earth shouldn’t all my characters have access to at least one of the two Chef’s Hats I have?

For that matter, why should I have to level up cooking to 525 on THREE characters? Surely just one character knowing cooking ought to suffice. Same with first aid and, of course, fishing!

But if we go that route, what about “real” professions, like Leatherworking, Inscription and Alchemy? No kidding, I have four characters at 525 Alchemy, three at 525 Inscription, three at 525 Herbalism, two at 525 Mining and basically one of everything at max level save Engineering and Blacksmithing. Shouldn’t that stuff carry over as well? I mean, I’m the one who did all that work, right? I’m the one who sat there and milled ’till my fingers were raw (okay, not quite that bad, but still). I’m the one who did all of that on all kinds of different characters, on a variety of servers.

So if we open the door to account-wide achievements, titles, mounts and pets… where does it stop? Where should it stop? Where do you draw the line between “quality of life improvement” and “completely freaking ridiculous”? Is there even a line TO draw between those two points? I would argue that the Chef’s Hat, for instance, would be a quality of life improvement, but my level 5 bank alt being a Hand of A’dal would be completely freaking ridiculous. But someone else might think that the Chef’s Hat is ridiculous and the level 5 bank alt with that title would be AMAZING.

I strongly suspect that questions like these are the primary reason we haven’t seen much account-wide stuff to date and why they’ll probably “test out” account-wide pets and the like first. The slippery slope is just too slippery. What is completely acceptable to one person is a step too far for another. Taken to the extreme, you could make an argument for throwing out the levelling process because “hey, I got to level 85/90/100 on one character! Make all my toons that level!”

I do agree I’m probably a little strange with my identity issues (“But KURN never killed Vashj and Kael!!!”) but I think my own situation, particularly with the baby pally thrown in the mix, illustrates an interesting conundrum with regards to the value of these rewards and the reasons people attach meaning to them. I think all of these are important questions and situations that need to be looked at before they throw the doors open to account-wide achievements.

(Blatant guild plug: Remember, Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas is 2/8 HM with Heroic Yor’sahj to 22% and is recruiting!!!)

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun

It’s definitely been interesting to raid with both my guild, Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas, and a guild I was in for the tail end of Wrath, Choice of Skywall. I’ve learned a LOT about both Firelands and about being a holy paladin. I’ve learned a lot about being a raid leader, guild leader and healing lead. I’ve learned a lot about being a cog in the machine and being part of the rank and file.

I spend, well, I guess it’s about 15 hours a week raiding. In truth, it’s probably three hours or so too much, but nine hours isn’t quite “enough” for me, and 6 hours of raiding as “just” a raider isn’t anywhere as taxing as 6 hours of raiding as any kind of a leader. So I’ve spent a lot of time raiding Firelands over the last couple of months and have learned a lot.

What’s been the most valuable thing about this whole deal is that I’m learning from my own mistakes that I make in various raids. In Apotheosis, I’m guilty of spending too much time looking at the rest of the raid — cooldowns used, who’s dead, etc, and my healing suffers. In Choice, I’m guilty of spending a little too much time tunnel-visioning, so while I have great healing, I do occasionally get beaned by some environmental hazard.

I’ve also learned a lot from each raid and brought what I’ve learned to the other raid. For example, Choice did Baleroc before Apotheosis did, so I was able to take their strategy and refine it to suit my group. I was also then able to take stuff from Apotheosis raids and let the Choice leadership play with it as they saw fit. (They totally use our 1-8 naming of Rag elementals, which I like to think are thanks to me. ;D) Apart from the cross-raid knowledge, it’s always an amazing feeling to know that you helped a raid group do something, you know?

I mean, sure, I was dead at the end of both of the Apotheosis Ragnaros kills, but I knew I’d worked hard to get us there. For Choice’s first kill, I was one of three healers standing, there was one tank left and a sudden calm descended upon me. “We’ve got this,” I felt. I just felt it and knew it. I popped my Angry!Man (Guardian of the Ancient Kings) right as he came off of cooldown and proceeded to heal the crap out of the sole, remaining tank. (And as I did so, I couldn’t help but think, “Man, Kal would be proud of me for using him twice in one attempt!”)

The tank died shortly after, due to a meteor, but another couple of seconds of DPS and Rag was defeated.

So Apotheosis defeated Ragnaros again last week and tonight, Monday, Choice defeated Rag for the first time.

Both guilds are poised to play with Heroic Shannox this upcoming reset.

Despite my grumbling about heroic modes and such, I still do them, and heroic modes are where guilds go to raid when they complete regular-mode content, so that’s where both Apotheosis and Choice are headed.

I cannot WAIT to see the differences between the approaches to Shannox on heroic mode, can’t wait to see the mistakes both groups make and can’t wait to see how both guilds eventually down him.

I enjoy being a part of both raid groups very much and while my overall loyalty has to be to Apotheosis (both because I’m the GM and because I love my guild), healing with Choice makes me feel accomplished in a different way and allows me to relax in a way I can’t do with Apotheosis.

And hey, Rag down on normal for both my paladins, Ragnar-O’s for both my paladins… that definitely does feel pretty good. :)

PS: Don’t forget to check out Blessing of Frost, just released Episode 32!
PPS: Majik has a Twitter! Follow him @Majjity!
PPPS: I have two posts coming this week: one rewritten Holy How-To and another one about healer evaluations. Stay tuned. :)

Masterful Madrana?

So there’s been all this talk about mastery gemming, enchanting and stacking.

Given that I was in an awkward position for gear, having received gloves from Rhyolith and legs from Shannox, I felt limited in my choices for what I should pick up from the Valor Point vendor.

I could have gotten my tier 12 chest, which has nowhere the amount of haste as my heroic Breastplate of Avenging Flame, or I could have gotten my tier 12 gloves, which have no spirit and aren’t in my planned 4pc, or I could have gotten my T12 pants, except that I just got those pants from Shannox.

I was already pretty well below the 1859 breakpoint for Holy Radiance’s extra tick and my heals felt sluggish.

We were struggling with Alysrazor and part of the problem was tank deaths. I almost always assign myself to a tank anyway, and we have some amazing raid healers, so I was like… Fine. FOR SCIENCE, I would try out this mastery stuff.

So I bought my T12 chest (oh why is it a robe? Dear God, why?) and regemmed everything to Artful Ember Topazes except for my 3 Jewelcrafter’s gems, which I replaced with 3x Fractured Chimera’s Eye.

And then I went reforging.

Basically, I ripped out all my haste and a bit of crit (as opposed to some spirit) and got to 26% on my shields.

1737 mastery rating. No kidding. 722 haste rating. My very soul ached!

But, FOR SCIENCE, and based on a bit of my own experience with a bit more mastery than I normally run with, I decided to stick with it.

So what experience was that?

Well, I raid with Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and then on Mondays and Wednesdays, I play the baby paladin with Choice of Skywall. Both guilds are 4/7 in Firelands 25-man mode and though the baby pally didn’t have any heroic gear (and still only has a 353 helm, actually), a lot of the stats she had were just like the original Madrana’s, only a bit lesser. A little less haste, a little less crit, a little less spirit and a little less spellpower. But due to the nature of the drops and items I was able to acquire (and when you’re gearing up a new 85, you can’t always be picky!), I ended up with a lot more mastery than I wanted, even when it was reforged. 473 mastery rating was what the baby pally had, which was a far cry from the 100-some that Madrana had.

And yet, while healing Shannox with Choice, I realized that even that very little amount (473) I had was pretty freaking effective.

I literally stared at that for several minutes and went “what the hell is going on?”. I then compared it to a similar Shannox kill Apotheosis had done:

Yes, I had healed with Divine Light less on Madrana than the baby pally and that will absolutely make a difference in the Illuminated Healing. The fight was also shorter. But could it really explain away over 300,000 in absorption? Nope. That mastery was really working for me. Both my assignments were the same — heal the Shannox tank. And I played very similarly throughout those fights.

So when I got to the point with my gear that I didn’t have enough haste to be comfortable in my regular playstyle, despite having actually upgraded gear, I decided that I’d try out this mastery stuff, at least until I can get my haste back up.

It helped out on Alysrazor, or at least it felt like it. And we got Alysrazor down, by the skin of our teeth. So I stuck with it for last night’s Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith kills. Here’s the result from Shannox, to keep things consistent:

Are you kidding me? Almost a million damage absorbed by Illuminated Healing? 34% of my “healing” was done by my MASTERY?

So, it’s effective. Quite effective.

However, I lost a lot of stats. I lost a TON of Intellect by virtue of gemming 20 mastery/20 int instead of 40 int, and the 67 mastery gems instead of intellect, too. I lost a LOT of haste. It’s just … gone. My casts take FOREVER and they don’t hit for as hard! But… they shield for a chunk.

[21:57:59.760] Madrana Word of Glory [Tank] +*0* (O: 48629)
[21:58:00.353] [Tank] gains Illuminated Healing from Madrana (Remaining: 12936)

Like, whoah. That’s significant.

However, I have effectively gimped myself for anything other than tank healing. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, because that’s almost all I tend to do anyway, but I felt weak and I felt gimped. I didn’t have the mana pool I was used to, so Divine Plea helped, but still felt less than I’m used to. Replenishment wasn’t hitting for as much. I keenly felt the smaller mana pool and I knew that I was relying more on the raid healers to spot heal people that I would normally toss a Holy Shock on or whatever.

In short, it hurt me, but it’s effective enough and I’m in a 25-man guild that can sustain a “specialized” tank healer. As soon as I can, I’m probably going to go back to stacking haste — but might come back to mastery for certain heroic fights.

I tell you, though, I felt absolutely useless in P2 of Beth’tilac and throughout the entire Rhyolith fight.

So, basically, I concur with Enlynn: it’s not fun and it gimps you, but it can be super effective if done correctly.

I much prefer having the possibility of being flexible and versatile to the reality of not being able to really deviate at all from my standard assignments. But my gear is essentially making me do this for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how that goes, shall we?

Next up, Baleroc. Should be fun. I’ll keep you guys posted.

Wednesday night was my first night raiding with Choice of Skywall again. The last time had been in late October, just before I brought Madrana home to Eldre’Thalas.

Well, Madrana II (or Saerani III, as a certain Football would put it), is back on Skywall and raided on Wednesday night.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my guild, Apotheosis. I really, really do. But at the same time, it’s SO NICE to be led by someone instead of leading people! Letting someone else organize the raid roster for the night rather than be the one to do it.

We blew through regular Bastion of Twilight in about an hour. My fellow holy paladin applicant got tons of loot (no Cho’gall bracers dropped… what a surprise…) and I’ll have to wait to be eligible until the next raid I attend, so I’m glad for him and glad for me.

It’s always interesting to acclimate to a new raiding environment. On the one hand, it’s a bit scary and nerve-wracking because you desperately do not want to screw up. And they do things differently than you’re used to, most of the time. I mean, sure, I know to hug people when I get Twilight Meteorite on Valiona and Theralion, but am I normally hugging people in melee anyways? In Apotheosis, yes, in Choice, no.

So Halfus was pretty simple and V&T went okay and Council was fine. Cho’gall was a little rough for me. I glyphed Cleansing for that fight and got 20 dispels, more than anyone — even the priest who was in the raid. /flex. But I was totally oom at the end of the fight. And I’d even taken a Potion of Concentration, too. Eesh.

Then, it was off to Blackwing Descent! And to Magmaw and Omnotron.

Magmaw was… entertaining. They were attempting to practice heroic positioning by virtue of having everyone clump up in melee and have a tank kite. The tank was… a prot warrior. I had never heard of a prot warrior tanking Magmaw parasites before, but by golly, it happened (albeit on normal, so there was no fire to dodge) and though there were some tank issues (mangle deaths — they happen everywhere, it seems!), Magmaw was still a one-shot.

On Omnotron, we had the person about to be fried to a crisp *not* moving in preparation for heroic mode, where they cannot move. A few people got nicked by the Flamethrower, but very nice positioning for the most part.

I was thinking maybe we’d poke around at heroic Chimaeron or something and I wondered if my gear could handle that or not, when all of a sudden we’re told to go to Uldum.

Okay. This was not something I had anticipated. The prospect of doing Throne of the Four Winds twice in a week with two different guilds is not cool. I don’t know WHY I hadn’t recognized this as a very real possibility, but apparently I am dumb. ;) No, seriously, it’s okay. I just dislike that instance intensely. And guess what Apotheosis is working on during Thursday’s raid? That’s right. Heroic Conclave.

So there I am on Conclave and I get to heal with Fugara, the GM. We had an easy job, staying on Anshal’s platform the whole time, so it was pretty chill and relaxed. Conclave was a one-shot. Beauty.

And then… Al’Akir.

Let it be known that I have killed that jackass just twice on Madrana (er, the original one) so it’s not like I’m a pro or anything. And they put me in a different spot than I’m usually in. On the bright side, I didn’t have to do the positions for Al’Akir!!!! Many commiserations to Zarethorn, Choice’s raid leader. He had planned that all out ahead of time.

So we wiped on him twice and called it a night. Having said that, I did NOT get blasted off the platform, I did NOT eat Squall Line and I totally used my CDs appropriately. All this from a brand-new (to me) spot, just one section to the right of the tank. (Normally, I’m at the tank’s spot but have also been two to the right.) I had one moment of panic as I saw the oncoming Squall Line and Wind Burst was casting. The moment of panic was not “how do I navigate this awful combination of elements” but rather “shitshitshitshit where is my bubble OH THANK GOD.”

(Madrana II has a different UI than Madrana I. It’s much less cluttered and yet I STILL had to search for my bubble.)

It was really fun to be back in that raid group. A lot of people have come and gone, but there were some familiar faces: Fugara, Ygg, Aidan, Zare, Acid, Baatezus, Banorind, Beezle, Cyber, Daemyn, Sane, Sham, Thorn. It was great to be back there with a lot of the same people.

A lot of people are worried I’m going to burn myself out with this crazy scheme of mine. I admit, that’s a possibility. But I feel energized by my night with Choice. I feel like going in to Throne tomorrow and handing Heroic Conclave their asses. I feel fired up and ready to kick ass with Apotheosis and then to go kick some more ass with Choice on Monday.

Also, I totally fixed my borked Raeli’s Spell Announcer on Madrana II. It refused to work at all throughout the raid, but I fixed it up afterwards. And then I realized I had enough Valor Points to buy an honest-to-goodness healing ring, so I did that, too.

All in all, a really productive night. A fun night.

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