It’s official. I’m a shaman.
Oh, screw it. I’m just going to post this now and sort out the details later. Much ❤ to those who commented while I was waffling, in true Libra fashion. I can hear my Dad’s voice in my head now: “Come on, October. Make a decision!”
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I’ve been debating changing mains for a while. I’m emotionally invested in my ‘lock: she was my first real character, and for most of my WoW career, the only one I had at level cap. I’m sure this sounds silly, especially to a non-roleplayer, but I really do identify with her on a personal level. I know how she thinks. I know what motivates her; I see the entire World of Warcraft through her weary eyes.
We have a long history, she and I. Together, we explored the cobwebbed halls of Karazhan, journeyed back in time to join the Battle for Mount Hyjal, and ultimately stood head to tail — demon-form to demon-form — against Illidan himself … and all of this months before little Liluye had fought her way out of Nagrand.
But as much as I love my warlock, I love my guild more.
Over time, my guild has become the reason I play the game. It’s something that I created, nurtured, and somehow managed to grow from a small group of friends who aspired to run heroics together, to the enduring community that it is today.
Someone once referred to us on the realm forum as “that guild that’s been around forever,” and I took it as high praise. It’s true. We fight amongst ourselves from time to time, as all families do, but we always come back — stronger, closer, better.
Still … we’re at an awkward point right now, especially in terms of raid progression.
When we started Naxxramas, we needed seven healers to survive Patchwerk. But as our raid geared up, our tanks were able to withstand ever-increasing amounts of damage. At the same time, raid DPS increased with each successive upgrade, so the bosses died faster and did less damage overall. The predictable result was that the farther into WotLK we progressed, the fewer healers we needed.
Three weeks after we started Naxx, our holy paladin went ret — with our blessing. He was more useful to the raid as Replenishment at that point, and had a fully epic ret set from 10-mans.
A month or so later, one of our holy priests went shadow. We didn’t have a consistent shadow priest or boomkin in the raid, and 3% hit at at time that DPS gear is so oddly itemized is nothing to shake a Carved Witchdoctor’s Stick at.
At about the same time, one of our shamans became overwhelmed with school and requested a demotion to casual, so our healing corps dwindled to two priests, two shamans and one druid who could be counted on to raid consistently, with another druid, a newly ding’d priest and a very part-time paladin available to fill-in … on occasion.
In Naxxramas and Eye of Eternity, this is typically enough to get us by. Even if one or two of our core healers can’t make a raid, we can often find a substitute among our casuals. For Sartharion 3D attempts, however, this doesn’t quite cut it. Last night, we actually called Obsidian Sanctum when our holy priest no-showed (I found out later that his power went out), and the two casual healers who subbed-in for our Malygos kill couldn’t stay on long enough to contribute to the scheduled Sartharion wipefest.
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been running healer-light, even in Naxxramas. Our druid is on vacation. Our discipline priest is three hours ahead of server time and struggles to make our weeknight raids, occasionally even dropping out in sheer exhaustion.
Our holy priest’s modem has been acting up and he disconnects randomly during raids.
If you’ve ever been responsible for 25-man raids in an ostensibly casual guild, then you know how it goes. It’s pretty much par for the course.
As a result of all this, I started bringing my shaman to 25-man’s as a fill-in. I’m probably splitting my time 50/50 between my characters these days. It’s not unusual for both of them to be saved to the same raid ID, as I’ll frequently DPS through the Spider and Plague wings, and then switch characters and heal through the Abomination and Military wings.
I love both of my characters, so I didn’t mind this in principle … but in practice?
It’s really starting to try my patience.
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never been particularly concerned with loot. It’s a means to an end for me, not the end itself. In fact, I’m famous for passing on gear if I think that someone else needs it, or even simply wants it, more than I do.
… But it’s gotten to the point that I won’t take gear on my warlock except as an alternative to DE, because I know that its value to the raid is maximized if it goes to someone who will use it full-time. Case in point: I have the only best-in-slot Turning Tide our guild has seen. Do you know where it was last night, when we raced through Naxx-25 in a whirlwind “achievement run”?
Outside the instance portal. With my ‘lock. Exactly where I parked her, right before I zoned into Naxxramas as a still slightly-undergeared shaman (rocking a War Mace of Unrequited Love and more cloth gear than I can bring myself to admit in polite company).
At the same time, I won’t take gear on my shaman because she is still technically an alt. Our loot rules allow alts to have equal consideration to mains if they are requested by an officer, and legitimately needed for a raid role that would go unfilled otherwise.
… but I’m the guild leader, so I don’t allow myself to take advantage of this exception to our main > alt rule. It’s too much of a gray area. Am I really needed as a healer? Or am I simply looking for an excuse to gear my alt at the expense of someone else’s main?
I think my guild knows me well enough to realize that this would never be the case, but it’s important to me — for my own sake — to remain visibly above board. Perhaps it’s a form of conceit, but I really do hold myself to a higher standard. The little allowances I make for my guildmembers (“I don’t think that helm is truly offspec for you, but …”), I just don’t don’t feel right making for myself.
Still, it’s beyond frustrating. I’m left spending my PR (akin to DKP, for those unfamiliar with EPGP) on marginal upgrades that no one else wants or needs — like the cloth shoulders I took last night — while watching guildmembers who raid less on their mains than I do on my alt take the best-in-slot items that I feel obligated to pass on.
I finally realized last night — after another shaman won the spellpower fist (a sidegrade for him, but a significant upgrade for me) that I’ve been dreaming about for weeks, even though my PR was technically higher — that I need to make a choice. It was the other warlock in the raid who finally drove the point home. I passed the best-in-slot helm to him last week. When I passed the spellpower fist as well, he /whispered me: “So you don’t take gear on your warlock, and you also don’t take gear on your shaman? What gives?”
The conversation moved to /officer chat, and my officers overwhelmingly agreed to support me if I decided to officially main-change to my shaman. No, Liluye isn’t needed every raid. But she is needed often enough to justify the change, and when dual specs come out, I’ll have much more flexibility in how I play — especially if I’m willing to dual spec elemental, which I am.
Another thing they pointed out was that when we move into Uldaur, we’re almost certain to need to expand our healing core. And since I’m the only officer who plays a healer and speaks on Vent (our priest officer and official healing lead, for whatever reason, doesn’t), I can take a more active role in leading our healers into new content.
As an added perk, I can now be a full-time, pocket healer to my boyfriend’s tank. It’s a powerful combination, especially outside of raids, since DPS is so easy to come by and tanks and healers are so scarce.
So I’m cheerfully optimistic, but nervous too. It’s going to be a whole new world for me.
It won’t, however, be a whole new blog. I’m still a warlock at heart, so I don’t imagine much will change around here. I started the Fel Fire with the intention of being a warlock blogger, but I think I’m really more of a warlock who blogs.