Travails of Autumn

It has been months and only recently has anything interesting occurred.

First a quick summary. Aldonza and Kallixta have spent enough time on the Timeless Isle to accumulate some nice purples. My characters have also been keeping up their profession daily cool downs, which often mean they have discovered some helpful recipes for even nicer gear. At least, I consider having everything over ilevel 450 nice.

Second, my guild shrank. The most active raiders moved, leaving mostly those with low activity. I lost a crutch!

Third, Hallow's End allowed me to easily test how well I could do in a low pressure queue. The practice made the final step much much easier.

Yesterday, I queued in the Throne of Thunder LFR!? OMG.OMG. OMG. Where's the notice about Average Wait Time? I was more than a little nervous. I'm afraid I bugged Matty, asking a few questions.I'd have asked more as the Average Wait Time would occasionally show up, saying 1 hour! then disappear and then surprising me with a pop!

I joined the raid after the first boss. We fought trash while more new members were brought in to fill those that had their fill after one boss? I knew what to do for Horridon and before long we had a dead dino.

Again there was a flush of folks leaving and arriving. It gave me time to remind myself about the next boss battle and in what seemed like no time at all, another boss battle was over!

1 Horridon kill
1 Council of Elders kill

That's 2/3rds of Last Stand of the Zandalari

And loot!

Necklace of the Terra-Cotta Mender

Well, that gets Kallixta up to ilevel 494.

The experience was far more pleasant than feared and soon I'll be joining LFR again.


Guild as Social Relief

Tome and I share a bunch of traits in common, but there is one I'll talk about now. We both share an anxiety that makes in hard for us to join in on some things. I remember the dread I felt in gathering a group for dungeons back before LFD. It was a simple change that greatly helped in some ways, but isn't perfect.

When I say "LFD isn't perfect", I bet my meaning is different than others. I care much less about group loot or folks going AFK. I feel a performance anxiety and can be very relieved when there's an obvious jerk because less attention will be focused on me!

I have a love/hate relationship with the queues. Late during the Lich King expansion, when we could face-roll dungeons without healers or cc's, I ran lots of dungeons, especially with one guild friend. We were both mages, but I was cajoled into running back-to-back dungeons with few fears. Knowing I had this friend greatly lessened my anxiety. If I screwed up, I had one reliable voice that I trusted to explain what I'd done wrong.

Just before Cataclysm launched, I changed servers to be with my daughter and her boyfriend. After some time, I found a new guild. There are a whole bunch of activities in WoW I couldn't participate in if it were not for my guild. Just like that friend in LFD during WotLK, I can trust them to shepherd me through just about anything. I trust them to let me know if I'm not ready or prepared enough. I know they might be carrying me on occasion, but I also know I won't be a dead burden for long.

I recently explained my anxiety as being unable to enter a classroom late and interrupting the teacher and students. My guild makes me fell like I'm just entering a room of friends.

Of course, even with the wonderful support, I dislike taking advantage of their friendship. I was horrified by my recent showing. They were laughing at themselves, saying "Oh yeah. I guess we forgot to warn you about THAT!" Yet I want to be sufficiently prepared that they shouldn't NEED to warn me. I'm the one responsible for ensuring I'm prepared. However, when there were four of them ready to go and the option was unprepared me or someone random from the queue... I let them carry my lame ... backside.

But I knew I'd be prepared the next time. Sure enough, when they gathered to run heroics the next night:

Two more Heroic Dungeons. No deaths! And my DPS was about the same as the other Mage. Actually, it was better on fights without much movement, so I know one place I need to work.

There are so many parts of the World of Warcraft that would be inaccessible to me without the support of my guild. I've tried to show my appreciation, but they just don't get it. They know I've a blog, but I don't think any have ever visited, but if you do, let me know!

Meanwhile, I finally got Kallixta to level 90! The surprise factor was when I hit, I got Terrific Trio, because I forgot my son hit 90 on his Death Knight. My daughter, the achievement seeker in the house, is miffed. She'll have two only when my Martuska hits 90. Heh.

A Horse of a Different Color

A desire to develop an improved Pet Battle Team for my daughter was the primary instigation for my return to WoW. Pet Battling with Martuska reminded me of the fun I had with my little Gnome, but I wasn't yet doing anything different with her than I was with Aldonza.

In one week, Martuska earned:
So this was the reason I was playing Warcraft? Pet Battles? That was my only competency?

It didn't used to be. I once ran dungeons. I ran dungeons after dungeon in Northrend. I had run one Pandarian dungeon, Stormstout Brewery with Kallixta, and hated it. This was mostly because I was still learning the Retribution spec, but also the Brewery had some boss battles with fiddly mouse clicking required to hop on soap bubbles or whatever. My eyesight and a different mouse have made this troublesome and I need to get back on the horse.

Well, a mount of some kind. I have non-horse choices.

Martuska reminded me that I enjoyed my zippy little Gnome. She was fearless. Aldonza was supposed to have left her fears behind, but hadn't, really. Aldonza already had level 90 and was fully equipped. So one night when my guildies were asking who wanted to run some heroic dungeons... I squeaked.

(I imagine an adolescent boy's voice cracking here.)

Of course, I had read the Dungeons Guides.

(I had read them back when Mists first come out.)

I ran two dungeons.

(I was the only one to die and I died twice, once in each.)

So, I'm back on a mount of some sort.

(It's not like any I've been on before. I'm looking at changing it.)

Who are you, little Gnome?

The family was back from Gencon and I was busy with new books and games and organizing them into the older books and games. There were new autographed books and nearby were all those Mercedes Lackey books still sitting on a shelf that I didn't take to Indianapolis because I didn't know she was going to be there!

The time came that I once would get online and play WoW and it occurred to me that I didn't mind being offline. For certain I missed the people, but not necessarily the game. I decided I might try turning off one subscription, but didn't get around to it yet. Still, there had been a tentative decision made.

Then my daughter proudly showed me her pet team she had leveled to 25. It was apparent she'd paid some attention to my suggestions months earlier, but it also was more revealing about what she liked when playing Pokémon! She and her brothers and, well the whole family really, started playing on a pre-color Gameboy. Her team consisted of:

Do you remember how hard it was to level up your first team to 25? She wasn't discouraged, exactly, but certainly wasn't enjoying it like I had. As I tried to explain how it would get better and what her next pets should be... She challenged me to use Martuska, my character on her account, and we would share the team.

Now I still felt guilty about abandoning Martuska for Kallixta and Aldonza. She was my first to level 85, but she was still sitting at 85! When I played Warcraft with my son, Kallixta and Aldonza were on the same account as his favorite character, so he could play with his sister. He would prefer if I could brush the dust off Marty so we'd have a better match.

Martuska and Aldonza are both Mages. Aldonza had overcome much of her cowardice, but I was the one avoiding Marty. Hm.

I concluded that before I stopped entirely, I owed Martuska some attention. With that miniscule commitment, I decided to send Martuska to Pandaria. Someone had mentioned levelling a low level in Pandaria, battling those wild pets. I could at least do that for Syylia's team. Martuska ran like a little child, or more accurately a small gnome, all the way to Half-Hill, set her hearthstone and started battling.

And I've been playing World of Warcraft ever since. I remembered the fun I had with my little gnome!

Marty needed to discard those Cataclysm blues and purples and her shiny new Zen Tailoring gave her a set of Windwool greens. That led to visits of the Silk Fields and confirming that playing a level 85 Gnome Mage really isn't that different from a level 90 Human Mage, provided you bother to set up the GUI! And the Macros! Oh, and choose your talents and glyphs. Good grief!
Marty's first new level since a month after Cataclysm came out!

Martuska is already level 87, almost all from Pet Battles, but she's reminded me of things that should have been apparent on Aldonza. Can you guess what I learned?

How often do you apply lessons learned on one character to another? Apparently I haven't been liberal enough in that reapplication!

How Syylia spent her Summer Vacation, 2013

I accused Navimie of being subtle. She disagreed. This just proved my sarcasm failed me.

Earlier this summer, my daughter and younger son devoted newly freed spare time to WoW. The pair found plenty to do, earning a variety of achievements. They also found ways to spend Aldonza's carefully earned gold! Who knew 200,000 gold could disappear so quickly?

When I explained to Syylia how 5.4 would make some achievements Feats of Strength, she quickly built her Golden Lotus reputation and accomplished Eternally in the Vale before it became unavailable. She got into a rhythm of working dailies and finished Tillers, Anglers, Cloud Serpent and even Friends on the Farm! This inspired her to return to Northrend and Outland and soon hit 40 Exalted Reputations!

All these reputations meant she also earned herself a Mountain o' Mounts, which pleased her to no end. These are the sorts of things Syylia enjoys in WoW. I'll help her, but it isn't as important to me. In fact, seeing all that she was accomplishing wasn't drawing me back.

What did bring me back? Oops! Not there yet.

One thing I knew about Aldonza and Kallixta was that they were poorer and I resented the pressure to return just so my kids could spend more gold. It wasn't the earning of that gold that I enjoyed. Instead it was a sign that I was good at something in Wow. I might not know my class, but I knew the Auction House! I knew how to relieve others of gold that they wanted to spend. Is that all I do in Azeroth?

Of course not!

I also had a better Transmog than Syylia!

Oh dear. What competence are you proud of in Azeroth?

The factions that put Syylia over 40, earned on the same day

There are edits in this graphic

Syylia wasn't only working on Reputations

How I spent my Summer Vacation, 2013

August was not a calm month in the Kallixta household.

My older son returned from Korea for a break in his year of teaching English.  The family took our third trip from Detroit to Fargo this summer and we did it without stopping overnight since theoretically we had four drivers. Practically, I drove more than half of the sixteen hours or so. Funny how that works.

We also packed into the month a trip to Gencon in Indianapolis, squeezing two more friends in the car and the motel room. Having done this once before, we made better management of our time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Among the lessons learned, however, are that we'll split the seven of us into two rooms and two vehicles next year. Syylia had made costumes for herself and her boyfriend. Wil Wheaton spotted them, took their photo and posted it on twitter!

It rocked her Little Big Planet.

One Monkey flew back to Korea and things got much quieter. I had the chance to return to the World of Warcraft, but I was surprisingly ambivalent. It wasn't a habit anymore. The kids still played, but I had plenty to keep me busy. Maybe it was time to stay off?

The short answer is "No". I'll detail just what's happened next time, but just posting this much should break the logjam!

Unearned Credits

My time spent with Aldonza and Kallixta is to explore. The plan had been that Martuska, being on my daughter's account, would continue to pursue Achievements, but the second account wouldn't drive for them in any special manner. I've been pretty good about ignoring the pursuit of Achievements just for a higher Achievement score.

The closest thing to an exception has been that Kallixta worked hard on the Molten Front, earning the Hippogryph, while Syylia didn't. She is still spending time catching up on a bunch of Cataclysm stuff.

With summer, my son has been spending much time using the account, playing with his sister. They're having a good time, but it does mean that many of Ellyiia's achievements show up on Aldonza or Kallixta's Activity log.

Luckily Equipment rewards don't show up. That would be even more confusing.

About my only activity in the past couple weeks has been Aldonza doing Tiller and Angler dailies. Just so you know what I was really doing Last Night: