Day One Hundred and Twelve - 18 Oct 2011

Hallow's End and Gearing a Retadin

I logged on with expectations of a quick run of dailies and an Auction House visit, but was surprised to discover Hallow's End had started.

I immediately joined the queue for the Headless Horse, selecting DPS for the first time. I knew I was unlikely to fail. I just needed to do decent damage and not get myself killed. I made certain I knew where my "Oh Shit" Lay on Hands button was.

It was ridiculously easy. I actually topped the DPS Recount! I knew it wasn't about meters, but I took this as validation that I did indeed know something about what I was doing. Since I had a '/target Head of' macro, I was quick enough at switching. Seeing others selecting Need on the loot, I felt no guilt in doing the same. Kallixta won the Seal of the Petrified Pumpkin, perfect for my new spec! Three achievements popped from this encounter:
While quickly running through the Molten Front dailies, another interesting achievement popped:
From my prior use of Wow JuJu's repcalc, I knew it was coming soon and that there were some excellent rewards.


This brings me to the delayed discussion of Kallixta's newest gear set. The first thing I did was review my existing equipment. A few pieces of my Tanking set could be reused. I also found a couple recent Brewfest rewards
 Since some were Blacksmith made items, I actually recrafted a couple pieces to allow separate Reforging to occur. I also made a new Ebonsteel Belt Buckle. Some of these have since been replaced:
Second, Kallixta visited faction vendors to pick up some reputation rewards, including the recently unlocked. I also decided to get two copies of some things to allow different reforgings:
Next, I looked in the Auction House. Although the ring and trinket purchase was modest, I did decide the expensive purple weapon was worthwhile:
That leaves the shoulder quest reward that I can't upgrade!
However, I could craft Redsteel Shoulders as something different. I also needed to purchase a few more Bold Inferno Rubies, some different enchants, added my recently acquired Lesser inscription of Jagged Stone

The end result is although it's a new Spec, I'm now better geared than I was with either of my other, longer standing Specs! Kallixta will also need to visit the Headless Horseman and get his Horrific Helm!

Day One Hundred and Eleven - 15 Oct 2011

Into Deepholm

First, Kallixta ran through her dailies as a Retribution Paladin for the first time. It was a little uncomfortable, but it also isn't difficult. After her work on the Molten Front and Uldum, she was ready for something else. She wasn't ready to jump into a dungeon, so what could she do?

Having depleted some funds to buy her new gear, she made some effort to rebuild her funds. One reliable action was to sell Belt Buckles, but another idea was to convert Aldonza's accumulated cooking awards into Cocoa Beans and post a hundred cookies.

While on the Auction House, she realized there was some cloth going cheap. In short order she quickly popped:
Kallixta needed her tool bars and macros updated and her bags cleared. Besides updating her bandages to Heavy Embersilk, she built up her stock of some other goodies, including a stack of Highland Spring Water.
I had reached the point where I wanted to do something else with Kallixta, but wasn't comfortable with her new spec.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and journey to Deepholm

I followed Ding 85 as a guide, which was helpful for efficiency purposes. It ensured I gathered the right set of quests at a hub. There was only one quest it had me ignore. I didn't bother finding out why. The process definitely helped me get more comfortable with the Retribution priorities and cool downs. I needed to rearrange things a couple things and made a couple new macro, but the whole experience was much more enjoyable than it had been on Martuska.

She had been making excellent progress when I noticed she had made Honored with the Earthen Ring. According to my notes, there were useful rewards for that, but I hadn't a clue where the vendor was. A quick check showed I'd need to explore Vashj'r, but it was doable. It sounded like a nice break from Deepholm for a little while. It involved a lot of slow swimming and keeping an eye on my breath bar (since I didn't have my Sea Legs!), but Kallixta knows her way around the zone's flight paths now.

With the end in sight, Kallixta finished Deep into Deepholm and did some Therazane dailies. She finished Honored with Therazane and should break to Revered in another day or so. I find the RepCalc at Wowjuju to be incredibly useful. It showed what was in reach and just how long the Ramakahen grind is without championing.

I would use the next few days to research my complete gearing needs, especially seeing what reputation rewards were close.

Day One Hundred and Seven to Ten - 7-11 Oct 2011

Retribution Spec

Three days and three returns to Mount Hyjal and Molten Front dailies. I remembered to wave a few times, picking up "Chromie" and "Hemet Nessingwary" on the Have... Have We Met?  achievement. Three days adding to the Marks total and little else to say. Oh, one thing: 200 Daily Quests Complete.

It was on the fourth day that something different happened. I had mentally reconciled that I wasn't going to be running a healer anytime soon. I knew it wasn't going to happen, but I also wasn't making any progress as a Tank, really. When I saw my guildies heading off together for another dungeon run, it struck me that I could go with them as a DPS.

So I dropped my Holy spec and started building a Retribution spec. There was a lot of anguish, but I wasn't selling off my Holy gear, just crowding my bank with yet another set of gear.
I also did research. I'm using a couple sites for education:
So I spent the rest of the evening reviewing my equipment and spending some gold. I'll review my complete gear in a subsequent post.

Now that Kallixta has the Spec, Glyphs and Gear and I've installed an addon to help, I went to the target dummies and was very disappointed. I was barely breaking 6k. That didn't sound like a lot. Luckily I had helpful guildies that helped me understand a few things. After maybe an hour, I had managed to break 10k. Now that's still not very impressive to me, but for one night, I concluded I was on the right track.

The whole change meant Kallixta had new things she needed to test out on the weekend.

Day One Hundred and Six - 5 Oct 2011

Here was Kallixta's first evening logging in already at Level 85. She immediately headed off to the Molten Front to get her dailies done. After that, she was trying to think of her next priority. Should she head to Uldum and do the Ramakahen dailies?

Someone in the Guild asked if anybody wanted to do Coren Direbrew. Holy Socks! Wasn't that over already? Oh, I see. It's the last night. Well, sure. Kallixta switched over to Holy and joined the party, offering her healing services. She had done this before a bunch of times and this time it was with guildmates. If she was doing something wrong, they'd let her know, right?

Coren went down extremely quick and then something funny happened. We qualified as a Guild Run Dungeon Challenge, 1 of 7 for the week. Really? That was a dungeon challenge? We could see the extra guild experience and gold. Huh. And we never had a qualifying guild run on Coren before? Let's try another!

Soon we had done 5 runs against Coren, but the last one somehow didn't pop a Dungeon Challenge 5 of 7, why not? If we weren't all level 85, would that disqualify us? Funny how having someone weaker would mean we weren't as well rewarded.

We kept rotating guild alts, allowing folks to pick up their daily keg, but Kallixta kept returning as healer and noone else was interested, but then things took a turn downhill. On the final run, the tank suddenly was taking huge damage and Kallixta couldn't keep up. I got flustered and wasn't finding the right keys in my panic. I looked for, but couldn't find the Lay on Hands I wanted. I couldn't find my cool downs. Divine Lights weren't keeping up!

And then the tank died! Kallixta and another party member were heavily damaged. I quickly put Beacon on the new tank volunteer and tried my best, but I was still all off-kilter. And I was too focussed on the new tank and saw Kallixta's heal go down more. We were going to wipe on Coren!

Kallixta died and rathered quickly, I thought, managed to re-entry the dungeon. Amazingly I had kept the second tank alive long enough for the remaining party members to take out Coren before a complete wipe. But my confidence was shattered. I knew I hadn't handled things well. Others were willing to take some blame, but I knew I hadn't done all I could. I knew a few correct uses of my cool downs wouldn't have allowed the tank to die. I logged off the night in shame.

Day One Hundred and Five - 2 Oct 2011

Level 85!

Kallixta started the evening with about half a level to go to 85. She had already done the quest leading from the King and Prince in Stormwind, but hadn't hopped on the plane to Twilight Highlands, so that was the first step. Martuska's experience was still fresh enough that when the immediate battle on the arrival boat drew too many mobs, I knew to swim to shore so as to handle them one at a time. Determined now that the end was in sight, Kallixta did what was necessary. She experienced much more of the zone than Martuska had, with almost half of the zone's quests done when IT happened. I considered continuing on a bit, but I knew Kallixta should immediately head to Hyjal for the Firelands Invasion start.

Kallixta wrapped up her business with the Wildhammers, a third of the way from Friendly to Honored, and took off to Stormwind. She had a few items awaiting this point, such as her purples won from Coren Direbrew that required level 85 before equiping. It did not take long before she was off to Hyjal and the Sanctuary of Malorne.

The beginning quests were little trouble. The first sign of difficulty was zoning into the Molten Front and immediately finding myself in battle with a Obsidian Slaglord. Wasn't the quest name Through the Gates of Hell a big enough hint? Apparently not because I dithered in panic and died quicker than I thought possible. Maybe a fresh 85 isn't ready? After a bit of research, I tried again and had little trouble. Soon enough I was back in my stride and romping around, doing my dailies and happy with my performance.

Once Kallixta found her rhythm, she completed her first day of dailies and unlocked Zen'Vorka. She bought 2 purples for the Protection spec and 1 for Holy.

Returning to Mount Hyjal, Kallixta flew back to where Thrall and the Elemental Bonds quest chain was waiting. I did my research before starting this quest, or so I thought. However, I discovered dying during any of the boss battles zeroed out any accumulated points and requiring me to start over. I had difficulties where my rotation gathered too many mobs plus a big elite. I finally became extra careful on using things with an AoE component and got back on track. When the wedding finally got going, I had a happy face and was pleased with a new purple cloak for my Healing spec. I had been trying to concentrate on equipment for Holy. After updating, Kallixta's Item Level Average was 338 for her Holy spec and about the same for Protection. Her Amory lists her as having 343 in her bags. That's quite a difference!

This ended an extremely productive night, having finally brought my little paladin to maximum level and playing in current end-game content. Obviously there's more to do, but I'm happy to sit back and reflect on this accomplishment.

BA Shared Topic: Best Grind

The Blog Azeroth Shared Topic this week, Best Grind, was suggested by me:
Normally the words "Best" and "Grind" are not found this close together and there are plenty of grinds to hate. However, I'm interested in the flip side:
Was there something that required sustained and prolonged effort that you found interesting or rewarding? Was there something that was not just a chore to work on?

I was talking to a friend about how things were different in the old days which inspired this topic:

The Story

It occurred near the Westfall Lighthouse. Although at the time Burning Crusade was out, there hadn't been much for changes to Gnome Mages of about level 19 adventuring in Westfall compared to Vanilla days.
Martuska had finished turning in some quests at what passed for a "Quest Hub" at the Lighthouse. Consulting her notes about next quests, she was frustrated. She would need to run all the way to Lakeshire for new quests and some of those quests were to run all the way back to Westfall. Quests were designed to make an adventurer travel all over Azeroth.

Although she was approaching the right level for the Deadmines, she hadn't done the preparatory quests yet. Dungeon quests weren't something you could just pick up after zoning in. Dungeons weren't something you could just push a button to join a queue. Battlegrounds weren't someplace you could simply queue to gain experience.

But Martuska's notes suggested "just grind the crabs on the beach for your next level". These crabs had yellow name plates. They weren't automatically hostile and each death gave some nice experience, especially since Martuska did have some "Rested XP" bonus to work on. She needed a bit of awareness so she didn't use her Frost Nova to lock one crab in place but trigger another crab's hostility, too. She learned how to blink away, cast an instant or fire her wand while strifing away. It was all useful skill development even as she gathered up the experience to make a few more nearby quests turn from grey to yellow.

And after picking up the next level, she also discovered they dropped a lot of meat. Martuska had stacks and stacks of meat and claws. Her bags were actually close to full with more stuff than she needed to raise her cooking skill. So the logical thing was to post it on the Auction House.

Now Martuska had been selling surplus stuff on the Auction House before, but this was a bit different. The claws and meat returned huge amounts of gold. MArtuska had never felt this rich before. She had more gold than she knew what to do with and was happy to struggle with such a problem.

It gave her a whole different perspective on grinding. She had been killing these Shore Crawlers for the experience, not farming them for their meat. It wasn't the last time she deliberately sought combat with mobs for their experience to avoid questing. Martuska was a Frost Mage and some time later she discovered how to gather Mosshide Gnolls in the wetlands, Frost Nova, Blink, Blizzard, Blizzard, Cone of Cold and collect the rewards. She levelled by AoE Grinding instead of running back and forth across the Wetlands. And it should be pointed out that although in her mid twenties by this time, there was no mount to speed the journey and no convenient flight points. It was a long jog to Menethil Harbor and back.

I really enjoyed the old style level grinding. It was optional. It wasn't like it was the only method to unlock the desired vendor. There were no rewards but the drops by the mobs and it was something I barely noticed was missing until there was a discussion about just how different some things were.


That was the story that inspired the Shared Topic, but as I was thinking about it, I realized there were a few other grinds I enjoyed. Grinding my fishing skill never bothered me. That was not true of most professions. I detested that most crafted gear created for raising skill was just junk. Recently Aldonza became a scribe and I discovered that leveling Inscription was the opposite of expensive. She actually was making a profit from about everything she made. I enjoyed the first bit so much that even though she was supposed to be a bank mule, I actually worked to raise her to level 30 to unlock the next round of skills.


Martuska was in her high fifties, but she knew she wanted to squeeze more from Azeroth before heading into the Outland and found herself in Winterspring. Through the normal course of leveling, she found herself honored with the Timbermaw Hold and had unlocked the Wisdom of the Timbermaw  belt pattern for her Tailoring skill. She found that exciting and with some research, realized there was another Tailoring recipe at revered. So she spent some time grinding for beads and feathers and before long earned her reverence.
By this point Martuska could no longer ignore the pull to the Outland and didn't return to complete the reputation grind until well into the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Martuska didn't grind any other Vanilla reputations because the Burning Crusade was just too attractive. The reputation grind in Outland was never much fun. It wasn't until the Argent Tournament that she found an enjoyable grind again.

By the time Martuska was working the dailies at the Argent Tournament, most people had moved deeper into WotLK content. It wasn't totally empty. It was still easy enough to find others to bring down Chillmaw or joust before the citadel. The pace also worked well for her at the time. She could log on, run her dailies, and be ready to run off to other things. It was much more enjoyable than grinding out those badges from dungeon runs. It must to pointed out that the vanity rewards were a huge draw for her.

Now that Kallixta is running Molten Front dailies for her marks, there is a similar enjoyment. It's easy enough to watch the count accumulate from just a few minutes a day. The grind for reputation with Ramakahen is much slower with only two dailies. She was also thrilled that the same day she hit level 85, she could run through the Molten Front Invasion quest line and unlock some nice purples!

Meanwhile, the Cataclysm reputation grinds continue and are not as attractive. Sigh.

Day One Hundred and Four - 1 Oct 2011

My enjoyment with Kallixta running the Coren Direbrew event inspired me to finish levelling her and get on with it! I have stopped for vacation most of the way through Uldum and so I picked up where I had left off.

Actually, while I ran the Brewfest Dungeon about every day over the last week, I also ran the Plucky Thieves daily. I'd log on, queue for Coren until I deemed myself done then ran the daily. I left Kallixta zoned in Uldum or maybe I'd hearth back to Stormwind, do the Auction House or whatever, then portal back to Uldum.

But this day I looked at the Uldum quests I had and figured out where to pick up (around Schnottz's Landing) and away I went. I still was surprised at the frequency with which cinematics would pop up. I had far less trouble with quests as a Protection Paladin than I did as a squishy Mage. I could just wade in swinging. I spent some time dithering over quest rewards, but there were really few that were upgrades. According to the Activity Log, there were three Superior items while any greens were quickly selected for their trash resale value. I didn't bother including any of the new blues into my item sets while questing. I just accumulated them for decision making later.

One of my guildmates was excited, only three bubbles away from level 85. I started the day with only a couple bubbles total, but was pleased with the speed I picked up experience. When I finished the zone, I headed back to Stormwind, knowing I'd be heading for the Twilight Highlands and I was over half-way to Max Level!

Day Ninety Nine to One Hundred Three - 21-30 Sep 2011

Something really fascinating happened over these days. I know it messes up my Centennial, but there wasn't anything special to differentiate between these days exactly. I only played a few minutes each morning, running the Coren Direbrew dungeon group. I'd log on, run at least one and maybe a few more if nothing interesting dropped, and I've had a few interesting things drop:
I ran at least one other day in there without winning a greed roll. Besides my Justice Points and some gold, I found Great Brewfest Kodo in my Keg one day, which added to the achievements and feats of strength this holiday:
Now about the fascinating bit. I ran Holy and queued as the Healer.

Now I've run dungeons as the Healer, but never a random. It was always with friends teaching me what to do. This time my inexperience was inflicted on unsuspecting randoms, but the Coren Direbrew event was perfect for learning. It's short. If I was horrible, folks weren't going to be around long. It gave me a simple environment to experiment with known issues.

I loved it. If anything, I'd have been happy queuing up far more often, just for the experience. However, after running a few times I wanted a break to think and research changes for next time. What did I learn? I learned what I needed to cast before the pull: Beacon on the Tank and either Blessing of Might or Kings, depending if a Druid was in the party. I learned that I could ignore adds on myself. I was plate and rarely did I need to cast a heal on myself. I learned that if I was messing up and letting the tank drop too low, a quick Lay on Hands fixed that. I really didn't need to worry about saving any of my cooldowns.

Another thing learned was my healbot set up. I was switching between our main computer and the laptop, and would forget to change my settings. I found DBM could pop a warning thing right on top of my healbot frame and intercept my mouse clicks! I was casting, but the tanks health kept dropping!

Finally, I concluded the exercise wasn't a great test of my use of cooldowns, but it was better than nothing. If the tank was well geared, I had plenty of time to cast my judgements and even holy wrath or a crusader strike or two, although my DPS was always miniscule. However, I've become comfortable with my role as a healer.

I hope this means I'll be running LFD again soon. The big reason I haven't has been confidence that I'll have an hour or more uninterrupted, which just hasn't been the case. Now the family schedule has settled down, maybe that will change.

Day Ninety Eight - 17 Sep 2011

I've slowly started finding time to try and level Kallixta, even if it was a short amount of time. So I had her answer the Hero's Call for Twilight Highlands. Kallixta ran around Stormwind with her buddy, Prince Anduin, and saved civilization, or at least Stormwind, from a explosive end. Her reward was the Truthbreaker Shield

Kallixta stopped before boarding the flight to Twilight Highlands. She needs to finish up in Uldum first.
One discovery from the research in equipment and upgrades was that Kallixta can do the initial Molten Front quests for some excellent upgrades. I only discovered this after making some of those purchases.

Oh well. It's only gold.