Posts tagged ‘Warlock vs. Shaman’

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!”

*  *  *

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. 

Et cetera.

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.


February 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm 5 comments

I can’t click Publish. :S

The title of my next blogpost is “It’s official.  I’m a shaman.”

It’s all written.  Spell-checked.  Formatted.  Sitting there in my drafts folder, waiting oh-so patiently for me to click Publish.

… But I can’t bring myself to do it, because then it really will be official. 

It’s the right decision — for me, and for my guild.  But, damn it, I love my ‘lock.  I don’t want to let her go.  What will she do without me?  Where will she go?  Who will remind her to eat the brains of her fallen enemies?  She couldn’t find her Cannibalize button if her unlife depended on it!

She needs me.

And now I’m having second thoughts.


February 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm 8 comments

A crisis of identity?

I realized after I clicked “Publish” on my last post that I started it as a warlock and ended it as a shaman.  As you can see, I’m undergoing a slight crisis of identity.

I honestly couldn’t tell you which character is my main and which is my alt at this point.

I know the warlock class better.  I understand the basic theorycraft: how to spec, how to gear and how to gem; exactly what my rotation should be, and why.  I know some of the coefficients, and I know where to look for the ones I’ve forgotten.  I can comfortably give advice to new warlocks on most aspects of the class.  (For PvE, that is.  If you want PvP, go to Out of Mana.  PvE locks never OOM.)

I’m not quite there yet with my shaman.  I’m still in soaking-it-all-in mode.  I spent 20 minutes before work today researching gems I had never even looked at before.  (Apparently, I should be socketing intellect as a resto shaman rather than spellpower/mp5; who knew?)

I raid 25-man’s on my warlock (more a necessity than a desire, since my guild currently has three restos but only one full-time ‘lock) and am working diligently to max out her rep.  But I run 10-man’s on my shaman and will almost always volunteer to heal a heroic instance before I reluctantly agree to DPS it.

(Mine has to be the only guild in the entire world right now with a DPS shortage.  WTT tanks and healers for ranged DPS, PST.)

I hate competing on the damage meters especially because I often can’t.  Trash pulls and fights like Kel’thuzad, P1, and Gothik, P1, bore me to tears.  Nevermind casting my DoTs; raid DPS being what it is, mobs die within the space of a single Shadowbolt cast so there is literally nothing for me to do other than farm Soul Shards off of other players’ kills.

(From the Shadow Priest to me on our last Heroic Kel’Thuzad: “Damn it, Sar, stop ninjaing the Soul Shards!  Leave some for the rest of us.”)

And yet … I love the “mini-game” that is raid healing.  I find myself more engaged in the fight, more aware of what everyone else is doing.  I don’t feel compelled to compete with the other healers; each healing class has its niche, and our contributions to the raid can’t be wholly or accurately represented by percentage of healing done.

I chat more in the Healer channel than the warlock channel … but that might have something to do with the fact that I’m the often the only ‘lock in the raid.  (The priests have taken to joining the warlock channel on the grounds that their ability to spec Shadow makes them “honorary ‘locks” — and they don’t want me to be lonely.)

After spelling it all out (literally!), I think it’s obvious that I’m leaning more and more towards my shaman, but playing my warlock out of sentimentality and obligation.  She is truly my alter-ego, to the point that my boyfriend’s pet name for me is, simply, “Warlock.”  And as I found out during one exceptionally painful night of hockey-induced wipes, you tend to forget about all of the little things a ‘lock brings to the raid — Healthstones, Soul Stones, summons every time you fall off the pipe between Globbulus’s room and Glutch’s or die to Frogger ten times in a row — until you don’t have one.

I’m hoping to be able to keep the shaman reasonably well-geared in 10-mans, and maybe start bringing her to 25-man raids once we open them up to alts and off-specs (lower Naxx is on farm status, and we’re already DEing more epics than we can actually use).  Then, once Uldaur is released and we’re back in progression mode, I’ll see what the raid actually needs and go from there.

In the meantime, is it bad that I’m praying for one of our resto shamans to get bitten by the DPS bug and beg to go Enhancement or Elemental?  … Because, I totally am.

January 21, 2009 at 10:31 am 4 comments

I have a confession to make

I’m leveling a resto shaman.  Fast.

My brother whispered me from his druid the other night:

[Brother]: Weren’t you 72 yesterday?
[Me]: Yep.
[Brother]: And you’re 76 now?
[Me]: Yep.
[Brother]: Wow.

In my defense, it was a four day weekend — for me, anyway.  I have a week and half of vacation time to use or lose before the end of the year, so I’m taking Thursdays and Fridays off for the rest of the month. 

I spent the better part of two days leveling my shaman in Howling Fjord, Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills, in attempt to power myself to 80 and help alleviate the healer shortage currently afflicting my guild.

My guildmates think I’m doing it because I’m a team player.  I put the guild’s health (which is tied to its progression; nothing dooms a raiding guild faster than stagnation) above my own enjoyment of the game — which is true.  To an extent.   I’m invested in my guild (it is, after all, my guild) and want it to succeed.  If I have to shelve my beloved ‘lock for a while to make it happen, I will.

But, to be completely, 100% honest  

I love healing. 

No, really.  Would I lie to you?

(Okay, I would.  But I’m not.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.)

One of my guild’s former resto shamans, now a Death Knight, posted this in his blog the other day:

Raiding as a healer is exactly the same every time.  Watch the tank’s bar and don’t let anyone die.  Every encounter is nothing but 25 different bars.

Bet you didn’t even know I read your blog, Faelan. 😉

Maybe this is just a “grass is always greener” situation, but I disagree.  I healed briefly on my shaman at level 70 — she was a back-up healer for BT farm raids towards the end of The Burning Crusade — and had the opposite experience:  far from behing exactly the same, every fight was different.

As a DPSer, I have a routine.  It doesn’t change much from fight to fight.  Run in, Shadow Bolt, DoT, DoT, DoT, DoT, DoT, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt, DoT, run here, run there, DoT, DoT … over and over again. 

And this is as Affliction, a playstyle I love so much that I wrote a song about it.

As a Destrolock, it was even worse.  Run in, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt, run here, run there, Shadow Bolt, Soul Shatter, Shadow Bolt.  If I was very lucky, and our Affliction ‘lock had a late table and missed the raid, I might get to cast a Curse of Elements every two minutes.  Or Soulstone a healer if she was targeted for some kind of gimmicky YOU HAVE 30 SECONDS TO LIVE! RUN OUT! RUN OUT NOW! boss attack.

As a healer, not only do you have to master the movement of the fight, but you are also charged with the responsibility of keeping 24 other people alive — none of whom are ever doing exactly what they did last time. 

Your perspective of the fight may be reduced to 25 health bars, but those health bars are dynamic, damn it.  You have to know your role, and your priorities within that role, and act accordingly. 

I don’t want to replace my ‘lock as my raiding main, especially now that I’ve named my blog Fel Fire, but I’m determined to have a viable healing alt for those raid nights that we’re down one and neither the ret paladin nor the enhancement shaman is willing to step up to the plate.

December 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm Leave a comment


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