Monday, May 30, 2011

Warhammer: Being a sore loser

The Psychology of gaming – Why are some of us so sore losers?
“Win as if you were used to it. Lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today’s blog could be perceived as a reply to Jervis Johnson, who wrote the brilliant article in White Dwarf’s ’Standard Bearer’ in issue 361. Actually, it is a reply, as I’m going to mail him a copy of this entry.
One could argue that this would be going a bit far and wide for something as trivial as a blog which nobody reads anyway. One could even argue that he wouldn’t read it.
I’ll argue that he will. Either way, it doesn’t really matter ‘cause Jervis really manages to touch upon a subject which is a bit of hot potato for quite a few gamers I know. Myself included, more than anything.
The strikingly simple title for the article is “Losing with grace”. In the article we are introduced to that which Mr. Johnson precisely baptizes ‘The Face’. In case you haven’t been fortunate enough to become acquainted with his article, allow me to tell you a short bit about myself.
I’d tell you right away about The Face, but do me a favor and keep reading for a short moment.
I’ve been a long-term D&D and Warhammer-Fantasy player. I’m pushing 16 years of experience, to be precise. It’s fair to say that I’ve seen my share of gaming. And losing. Frankly, I’ve seen a lot of losing. I’m that guy, you know. When I’m reluctant to join in on a board-game it’s because I pretty much know that I tend to be the last one to finish. If the dices won’t kill me, surely some beard is making an assassination-attempt at me from turn one, and from thereon it’s all downhill.
The human mind is strange like that, in the ways we learn to adapt. We tend to find ways and make rules that let us compensate and rationalize the most notorious of bad luck. In my case it’s hardly a coincidence that I decided to always be the GM when we started doing D&D. It provides you with a sense of control.
It doesn’t matter if you roll your tenth 2 on the attack-dice that night. You can still make your ogre smash the stupid fighter. You have power.
Perhaps this is the reason why I’m such a terrible opponent, once my defenses have been removed. When the GM-screen is pulled away, and I’m the lowly level 1 Wizard. Or when I drum out my legions of Skaven to face whoever might dare stand against me. I become a terrible person.
In my experiences with the psychologically ill people, I’ve often noticed how much of a relief it is for them to finally have a name for their disability. In a parallel situation, I was actually a bit relieved when I read Jervis Johnson’s article. It seemed that my condition really did have a name. It was called The Face.
In earlier times I used to refer to this as ‘The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-effect’. But Face is better. And shorter. Frankly, it should be in the dictionary. It’s one of those rather unique words which don’t really have any proper synonym.
I suppose you could label “The Face” as the physiological and behavioral aspect of the sore loser. In continuation from the original article in White Dwarf, its name is basically a bit misleading, as it comprises the entirety of body-language seen in a person who’s looking into the bitter eyes of defeat. In a sense, it’s certainly not wrong to point out the striking resemblance to your basic, childlike instincts.
You know, all the way  back when we wanted that pirate-ship and Mom kept saying no, and we decided to scream out in anger as the forces beyond our meager control decided to conspire against us. It’s basic, primal rage, balancing notoriously between the aspect of bitter self-pity and anger towards anyone you can throw a punch at.
As we grow older we tend to develop (although some players I’ve met in my Warhammer-time really make me think twice about this statement) and navigate through this tendency. Understand me here; it doesn’t go away. We just acquire a tiny basket of tools that help us keep the beast at bay. Like a more efficient frontal-lobe. It’s pretty basic.
But sometimes our defenses crack.  Keeping the beast at bay takes effort, and certain events tend to trigger certain responses. After all, I don’t go into every game of Warhammer like a raging idiot. It tends to build up. For me it’s usually between the start of the first magic-phase and at the end of the shooting-phase. Skaven-players, I know some of you are nodding your heads.
Some people are better at handling defeat than others. As Jervis points out there are various reasons for this and, at the same time, even methods than can influence this tendency one way or the other. But I’m pretty sure that everyone has felt it, one time or the other. When the whole game comes crashing down around their ears.
“You must never be satisfied with losing. You must get angry, terribly angry, about losing. But the mark of the good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself and not his victorious opponents or on his teammates” – Richard M. Nixon.
‘The Face’ is the middle-ground, placed tightly in between not giving a damn about the game and blasting your (victorious) opponent into oblivion with a sledgehammer. Cold, socially semi-accepted rage, which symptoms are often quite visible, albeit a lot more in some individuals.
I’m blessed with being a part of around 10 other real-life friends who meet to play Warhammer on a regular basis, and I frankly can’t say anyone hasn’t encountered this state of being.

Personally, I’m a horrible person once I enter that state. I mentioned that before but it bears repeating. When I play as a GM, I play to provide fun. When I’m a player, I play to win. And objectively speaking I have no problems with defeat, but if I have the slightest impression that it’s on an unfair basis a nasty degenerative process begins. It’s not entirely unfair to label this neandertal in nature. At first, symptoms are subtle. I don’t throw around as many jokes, I tend to look out the window a bit more and so on. Then I start making remarks and curses upon my bad luck, and if this doesn’t improve, it’s clearly ‘not meant for me today’. If this downright spiral is allowed to proceed, eventually I’m right there not paying any attention to the game, talking to people in the other end of the room (naturally throwing in remarks about how overpowered the other guys army is) or even walking away, asking my opponent to just call me whenever it’s my turn.
On the physiological side my blood is pumping, my muscles tighten and my chest gets really heavy. I start snapping at people, eventually becoming extremely patronizing. After all, I really didn’t care about this stupid game. Right?
That’s the Face. And I’ve been fighting it for years. I’m aware there are more severe cases than me. People, who go out of temper, cheat and/or canalize it into endless biggering and rule-debates. These are all just another, albeit worse, aspect of The Face. After all, it’s a juvenile reaction to try and change the rules of the game once you realize that you’re losing.
As you can imagine I was happy to read Jervis’ article in White Dwarf, mostly because other people than me seemed to be battling their inner demons. I know several players who face the same reactions (a friend of mine tends to just shut off for good when it happens, almost go into a coma) but so few of them seem to take up the battle.  And I think we all, as gamers, owe it not only to ourselves but also our fellow community-members to at least ask; Am I liable to wear The Face? And furthermore, how can we best manage it? The implicit importance in this speaks for itself, I think.  After all, very few people like sore losers. And whereas you might consider yourself as “the grumpy gamer-guy everyone forgives” the next game might be the one which your opponent decides to call the last.
“We lost because we told ourselves we lost” – Leo Nikoleavitch Tolstoy
There is an arsenal of methods which can be utilized to keep The Face at bay, but none of them really come easily if you’re acquainted with sore losing through several years of practice. In his article, Jervis presents some good advice, which I’ve decided to elaborate and comment a bit upon.
Preventive MeasuresFirst and foremost it’s not rocket-science that we sometimes snap more easily than others. Jervis suggests looking out for the initial symptoms of The Face, such as the first markers of slumping shoulders and static-frowning-eye-brows. Going back another step, it’s also viable to identify a few of the risk-factors that help promote irritability and generally dull your judgment. These can be as obvious as the lack of sleep, food and/or dehydration. Heat is another factor which has been speculated to increase aggression and short-temper. Take breaks, open a window, sit down, eat. At other times there may be factors beyond your control, i.e. stress due to an upcoming exam. At least make sure to notice these factors. Personally, I’ve found it beneficial to remind myself that since I’ve been up painting my army all night, I likely need to watch myself more closely. I also tend to politely mention it to my opponent before we even begin.
Be mindful of your thoughtsBasic cognitive psychology dictates (in a simplified nutshell) that the way we think and interpret our situation heavily influences our reaction to it. This is also true regarding gaming. The bad thing about this is that it often evolves into a cycle, going from Situation -> Thought -> Emotion ->Action, and then rinse and repeat. When my Warpfire Cannon decides to misfire and blow a nice cut through two regiments of Clan Rats,(for the second time in that game) my immediate thought of the situation is how insanely unfairly I’m being treated by the dice. I become bitter. I concentrate more on being bitter and make mistakes which turn out bad. I’m reinforcing my own conclusion. I’m a helpless victim of bad rolls. I lose interest in the game and stop giving a damn. And before I know it, I’m giving my fellow player a really bad time.
This process happens extremely fast. We’re likely not noticing it at all before we start looking for it. Jervis also mentions this, regarding childish delusions. They key here is being mindful about it happening in the first place. If this means you need to call for a timeout or just take a deep breath and analyze your thoughts for a bit, do so. Dices can seem really unfair, but they aren’t really able to hate you (this coming from a guy with 12 misfires in one battle).  It’s a pretty common mechanism for a lot of people, on the level with walking past some guy in the street, thinking he just laughed at you. Though you’re not entirely sure. People make tons of these misattributions every day, and in our line of hobby it’s a very easy mistake to make. Keep the counter-arguments ready, and you’re that much better prepared.
Remember the premisesFrom time to time it really is beneficial to step back and ask yourself why you’re doing this whole thing again. As Jervis points out, a game is implicitly a social contract between two players, with the ultimate goal of having fun. Fun. For as many people as possible.  After all that’s why we took time out of our calendar and spent our wage on miniatures. Ultimately the premise is about having a good time. But there has to be a loser whenever there is to be a winner, which really goes without saying. It’s another premise of the game. The thing to remember is not to narrow down your scope of attention to a reductionist view in which winning is the only path to enjoyment. Granted, I love winning. It’s wonderful and gives you that special rush for a short moment. But in just one hour it’s all down in history. People won’t remember me for my games. Neither will they remember me for my win-loss-score. They will remember me for my personality at the gaming-table. I’m in no way surprised that in my community, pretty much everyone has a reputation about what to expect once you challenge them to a battle. Not surprisingly, since it mirrors so many other aspects of life. People don’t invite you to a night out based on what drinks you buy. They (hopefully) invite you based on what you bring to the social interaction.
Know that fun shows itself in many ways. My favorite example is previously mentioned Skaven vs. Warriors of Chaos-battle. Fittingly named “12 Misfires”. I could write a whole blog on this subject alone, but suffice to say, I managed to nuke three quarters of my army into the ground before Chaos even got into melee. At first I was severely angry, but as the game progressed I noticed a bigger and bigger crowd gathering at the table. They were laughing, but not at me as such. They were, in fact, having a hilarious time watching the Skavens blow up. When the last slave had left the battlefield (screaming), Chaos had technically won. But it was my army everyone was talking about for the rest of the weekend. Those are the events that will make you remembered. And being a good sport about it actually blurs out the established definition of ‘winning a game’. That day I felt everyone had won and had a great time. Could we really ask for more?
“That is what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.” – Richard Bach.
When all is said and done, rules debated and the respective armies compared, Warhammer is a game of randomness. There’s chance involved. Sometimes chance is kind and other times pain has no limit. Deep down it’s understandable why we all succumb to The Face, because winning is in our blood and winning is a basic premise of a game. In the end that’s likely what makes Warhammer so fascinating amongst other games. With so many variables and circumstances that can go wrong, you can’t really safeguard yourself from the occasional moment where everyone is petrified in shocked fascination of the dice-roll. These are really the times we remember. Just as everything can go horribly wrong, there will be times when a Slaan is eaten by a Brass Orb or back in the days when my Black Ark Corsair made The Green Knight run off the table.
We owe it to ourselves to celebrate these moments in the best way possible, and remember that we’re actually all in this together with the sole purpose of having fun. Thus defeat is an inevitable part of the game, and once it happens, it might be best to resort to one final quote which we should all take to heart:
You lost today, kid. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it” – Fedora (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

Monday, May 23, 2011

WoW: A healer's journey Pt. 2

So, time for more blogging. At long last, I hear some of you shout back there.
I am not going to deny it. Let’s just say as of late I’ve been rather busy graduating from university (I’m a psychologist now, weee. Who’s disorderly?) and moving in together with my better half. It takes time, you know!
So, fond of a nice reprieve from my usual duties around the house, I finally had the chance to sit down and play some more, now that I can go from moving around boxes to filling them up. The green ones, that is.
That’s a joke. Since health-bars are green. And sometimes people call them boxes.

Hawr.

But yes, I managed to reach 60. Did so yesterday, as a matter of fact, and I decided long ago that this would be the milestone for the second chapter, and the summarization of the first steps of the this hellish voyage. There is really a lot to say, I think, so let’s start out with my general thoughts on healing pre-outland, and from thereon be a bit more specific regarding the various instances.
(Druid) Healing and you. From nourish to wild growth. My impressions.
If you haven’t read my former entry (which you should) about my WoW-Healing project I will briefly summarize. Being sick and tired of the dps-role, I lived through my mandatory identity-crisis and decided to roll up another core-class. Whereas tank involved way too much responsibility and the fact that I actually had to pull mobs OFF retarded dps, healing seemed much more enjoyable. At least due to the sheer fact that I can just as easily let the 13-year-old brat stand in the fire and die horribly, while I pop a beer and laugh like a demented maniac in my chair.  On the downside though, is the fact that I don’t really get to see any new instances, as all I ever do is watch those all too-rapidly-draining green bars.
Ah well, can’t have it all.
So I set out as a druid, mostly since I’ve played priest for so long that I couldn’t bare another go, I love aoe-healing too much to be a paladin, and nobody cares about shamans. I set out from Mulgore with nothing but a few heirlooms to my obviously feminine name ‘Mosaique’ and uttered; “I want to be a healer!”
And boy what a long and strange journey it has been.
As you might’ve read in my previous entry, healing is first and foremost a drag when it comes down to whoever you’re teaming with. In the case you’re pugging (like me) in order to learn it the hard way, you’ll likely end up with people who are pants-on-head-retarded and define ‘fun’ as chain-pulling two groups, while standing in poison and screaming for you to heal more. As if it was a whole novel idea.

Sadly, Blizzard has not yet implemented the upcoming PTR-spell “Heal Stupid as Fuck” in their repertoire, and in the meantime you will likely have to accept the company of moronic drones whose sole purpose in life is to piss off as many healers as possible, and preferably whine loudly about it before they leave the group. There is a reason why the majority of people in pugs are pugging, often alone.
That being said you WILL encounter some very nice and friendly people (see my entry on Razorfen Downs for more information about Analpinch the Tanking Crab). Just don’t count on it. I’m frankly very eager how this will (d)evolve as time progresses in outlands, especially with the unstoppable wave of trolling kids with freshly rolled death knights, insisting on tanking for the first time in their life. Mind you, I am not laying claim on the sole truth in this matter, but it is my wholehearted recommendation to everyone insecure of their new role (maybe with DPS’ers as the exception) to start out from the beginning. You see, what makes this advantageous is the fact that you have a very limited repertoire of abilities to manage, which gradually improves as you move up in the system. Healer-wise, I decided to use Healbot (Yes, I know there are haters out there. Go suck it. It works for me.) which is a nifty little tool that allows you to bind your various spells to a combination of mouse-buttons and Shift, Alt and Ctrl. If you’re like me (and the majority of other mortal beings) you’ll likely not own the new WoW-mouse with more buttons than I have fingers. In my case, setting it up initially so I was spamming nourish with left-click, then rejuvenation with button 1 and regrowth with right-click worked wonders in the beginning. Swiftmend was on my wheel, and as I progressed I added decurse to my button 2, innervate on alt+wheel and wild growth on alt+right click. Bress went for alt+button 2, and I intend to put Lifebloom on alt+button 1. In that way single-target hots will always be associated with button 1.
Healing as a druid didn’t seem like that much of a bother on 1-60. And it became progressively easier as you leveled up, which might seem a bit contra-intuitive. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that people are getting better and better gear on their alts and the resto-tree includes some really nice talents for the job. I am not saying I couldn’t have done it without them, just that it would have been a lot harder.  Let’s go over them in turn. Please be aware that this is my own personal opinion. I am in no way trying to be ElitistJerks here.
The Tools of the Trade – What Mother Nature Gives (and withholds).
Nourish. “Because standing around doing nothing as a healer looks bad”.
Poor man’s choice and yet to save my ass so many times. If this spell was a person, it’d be that friend of yours who usually comes over and shares beers at the party. He tends to pop up now and then, and you tend to rely on him if you just need something to fill out time. And in some circumstances he will make a huge difference, which you will likely remember for a long time.
 I’m not sure whether it was good gear or dumb luck, but the rare times my mana was devastated, yet my regeneration managed to ensure quite a lot of nourishes .This spell also seemed quite strong at mid and early levels, meaning I could solely rely on this as a basic. Naturally this comes with a longer than usual cast-time, but it’s death-cheap (life-cheap?) mana-wise. With a rejuvenation on the target, this spell becomes a Chuck Nourish, and heals for significantly more. Don’t be an idiot like me and forget that fact. As I progressed this usually ended up as my “Don’t know what to do now, so let’s just cast something”-spell. Alternatively, I usually threw it at dps’ers I didn’t care that much about.
Rejuvenation. “There. Now, shut up.”
Know those people that you just keep turning to when in trouble or doubt? They’re called friends. And Rejuv is your friend. You keep using it, spamming it and applying deliberately. You make sure he’s never neglected, and you’ve had so many adventures together. And hey, even the people around you likes him, cause he tends to be one of those social guys with whom you can easily place some responsibility. You know he’ll get the job done.
Alright, you get the picture.
I’m told that at the current state of Cataclysm, rejuvenation-spam is not as viable as it used to be in raid-environments. I am not really in a position to comment on that yet. I know I used it liberally in all 5-mans, especially pre-wild growth. It’s healing done is impressive. Often it was enough in itself to keep up a decently geared tank.
Swiftmend. “HOLYFUCKTHAT’SALOTOFDAMAGE!”
If you’re part of the majority, this spell is your average benevolent parent(s) who you’d call whenever you’re standing in shit to your neck.
Initially I didn’t use this spell that much. But as things got harder and players more retarded; this is a true blessing. With a short cool-down, manageable price and a solid amount of healing, this spell will save lives when bars go red from one second to the next. Just be mentally aware that this initially only affects one target, meaning that in some cases you will have to make a call about who will live and who will die. It can be a rough decision the first couple of times, but for the experienced players (and the megalomaniacs) this can be a part of what makes healing awesome. Later on this spell gets significantly better, when glyphed and once it starts spreading AOE-healing through talents.
Regrowth. “Yeah, but it’ll cost you…”
I have a funny relationship with this spell. I assume you could compare it to having a party with your friends and deciding to just buy everything instead of spending days preparing. Which will naturally cost you a lot.
I used this spell a bit at low level, most it has been gathering a lot of dust in the last couple of levels. Not that I am doubting its effectiveness, but I’m a mana-hugger at heart, and it just pains me to see so much blue-bar disappear. The few times I’ve used this spell have mostly involved situations in which Swiftmend was on cooldown, or I didn’t have time to cast a HoT on the target first. I’m pretty sure it will get a lot more useful later on, though.
Wild Growth. “I’ve had it with this mother-fucking-aoe-damage-in-this-mother-fucking-instance!”Seriously. I’d marry this spell. Make it breakfast on bed and have its children.
I’m likely overestimating its potential, but so far it’s been a blast. An AOE-HoT, slightly more expensive than a single rejuvenate, with a lesser amount of healing done, and 8 seconds of cooldown. Glyphed, this often means you can usually keep up a continuous HoT on the entire party, including that demon-pet. I tend to alternate a bit between this and nourish as a filler-spell, depending on what’s needed in the current situation. As a general patch-up-the-dps’ers between encounters it does a great job, and there really is no harm in just using it if in doubt. Hell, it even has a bad-ass sound.
It won’t save your ass in every situation, but it certainly makes it easier.
All in all, I like the tools so far, and I’m sure it will be much more interesting once greater heal, tree-form and bloom kicks in. What I really like is the fact that so far, none of these spells have seemed redundant. I’m pretty sure I have a handful of situations in which they all saved my hide in their own way. This is kudos to Blizz, indeed.
My usual standard “rotation” involved something like keeping a rejuv on the tank all the time, and if nothing else was happening, just casting Nourish. Interrupting it, if it was about to get wasted. You’ll be surprised how often this is basically enough in the low-level dungeons. When DPS went retard and pulled, I threw them a rejuv and kept doing the same. If damage spiked, swiftmend worked wonders, and by that time the tank had usually picked them up.
When stuff gets complicated is whenever things go out of hand, and I believe this is where your talents will be put to the test. It’s when aggro is flying all over the room, dps’ers running out of sight from you and the tank struggling to maintain what he can (of course, while two mobs are beating on you from ranged) you will make the shots.
Initially this IS overwhelming. For me it was. And it’s tempting (and understandable) to lose control and spam your strongest spells left and right. Your best option, however, is to clear your mind, even if it means spending one or two seconds doing so. Eventually you’ll be faster with training.
Remember to always keep up yourself. If you die, it’s pretty much game over for everyone. This seems like a mandatory advice, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget your own health when Hell breaks loose. So first make sure you’re good, perhaps throw yourself a rejuvenation, and quickly move attention to the tank. Unless your health is dropping rapidly, I tended to save my swiftmend for the tank.
If mana is tight, make sure to keep up yourself and let the tank get the adds of you. Once done, focus on keeping him up. Remember that WoW is funny like that. As long as your dps’ers are standing at 1 hp they’re good. Get used to looking at red bars. If you know they aren’t in any real danger, let them be. Full bars are a luxury which cannot always be afforded.
Also, be prepared to sacrifice. If an encounter goes wrong there is still hope, but throwing out five rejuvenations and being dry on mana will not hold against the damage. Instead, sacrificing a dps (or in severe instances, two) in order to assure enough mana to keep up the rest of you is necessary. When I did Scholomance, our tank turned out to be the rejected offspring of two retarded chipmunks, and chain-pulled half of the first room. I am not objecting to this as he warned us in advance, but he quickly lost control with the mobs, and before we knew it most of the room was upon us. We managed to chew through some of them, but he decided to bail and left. In the end a dps’er died, leaving the three of us. The sprawling beauty of it is that we made it. All empty of mana and every kind of regaining it, maintaining a rejuvenation-nourish rotation between the three of us worked out. It’s times like these you should take a moment to bask in your victory. You deserve it.
Sometimes shit breaks out. And it’s not your fault. We had a couple of wipes in my time, one of them because I wasn’t paying attention. But a lot of times it’s beyond your control. When people pull, stand in fire, or the tank runs away from the group to pull more mobs, leaving you to decide whether to follow him or stay with the rest of your group. It’s not your fault, and remember that you can’t be blamed. Although some kiddos still will.
In the words of Sam & Max; Let them be. Puberty will be hard enough for them.
So, What have we learned so far? Aka: TLDR.
Healing pre-outlands isn’t hard. There are times that will challenge you, but that depends on the people you’re playing with. Being heirloomed and specced for it undoubtedly helps a lot.
I must admit, I skipped a part of the instances. While I did a lot, there was also a solid handful I ended up skipping, simply because healing became downright boring at times. Especially at lower levels or when I out-leveled an instance, meaning I’d just run along and spam rejuvenations all the time. At other times, I merely decided to go and do something else, and level a bit in the new Cata-areas. Which I can recommend, since some of the new quests are really awesome. Do what is fun to you. After all, you’re paying for this : )

I was also spending some time doing archaeology (which is basically the only thing I can do while painting my Warhammer-army, besides listening to music) and managed to get my hands on Ring of the Boy Emperor. Which I am sure will be an okay contribution for a newly dinged 85 once the time comes.
Now I’ve stepped through the dark portal. And I am eagerly waiting to find out… Am I prepared?
Instance-rundown (in no particular order):
The Stockades
Coming up next in my journey was the top-secret constellation of the most dangerous criminals to ever set foot upon Azeroth. I’d like to say it was Arkham Asylum, but for once I was actually a bit disappointed with the Cataclysm-change. What’s with the fire-elementals? Seriously? I’ve always thought this revamp could be a great opportunity to do something like Wailing Caverns with a lot of minor bosses, portraying various villains from Batman. A giant killer crocodile, a frost-dk with bad puns… Hell, they even have penguin-models!  I just know Blizzard could pull it off in awesome style. But maybe I’m the only one with that brilliant idea. I don’t know. In the end we bashed in The Jhogger’s face. Boring instance. Next.
The RazorfensI had a great time in both these cases, and my first wipe ever, when the tank decided to pull three packs while I was drinking. Bad idea. The atmosphere in this place is just as awesome as I remember it, and healing-wise it’s not really that intense. Either that, or the mobs just don’t pack that much of a punch. During my run in Downs, I had the pleasure of making a new friend. The tank was pretty mediocre, which meant our hunter put out his new pet “Analpinch” the tanking crab. Analpinch did a really great job. In fact he took a lot less damage than the tank, and he even held better aggro at some pulls. In the end the poor paladin had enough and started telling us to put away the crab.
This meant a dps left, so we had another hunter to join us. Asking what was up we briefly explained him our crab-dilemma and he laughed as he contributed with…you guessed it. Another crab.
Immediately the hunters pulled, the crabs (Analpinch I placed as MT1) grabbed aggro and held on beautifully. The paladin went berserk in chat, and I jokingly said I was too busy healing Analpinch, and I’d read his complaints later. It might be what pushed him over the edge, for he left right afterwards.
We finished the instance with four people. And two crabs.
I will miss Analpinch. Thinking of adopting a crab vanity-pet soon.
If any of the hunters should ever read this, thank you for saving my night : )
Scholomance
Scholomance was one of my all-time favorite dungeons in vanilla. I used to run it a lot with a priest back in my guild who’d never seem to get his headpiece. Therefore I didn’t really suspect scholo to be much of a challenge, and I did end up pretty much leading the way through it.
But whether our tank was below-par or something else was to be blamed this instance was actually semi-hard. There are a lot of mobs and dicey pulls, which can make it all go down in a hurry. Some of the bosses hit for a respectable amount of damage, and there were a few situations that made me lean forward in my chair and stare with great attention.That first gargoyle-boss and the butcher in the basement really ended up hurting people, so be prepared for those. All in all, challenge is a good thing.
Scholo is by itself pretty much unchanged by Cata. The only real difference now seems to be the adjusted level, which likely shows how much Blizzard agrees with me. If it works, don’t fix it. The atmosphere, the enemies, the encounters…everything. It all comes together so nicely. So nicely that I ended up running it twice.  And that crappy staff didn’t drop.
StratholmeAnother of my favorites. I clearly remember how me and rl-friends set the guild record in Vanilla, for the Strat 45-rune. I think we made it all down to 39 minutes, which likely isn’t that impressive compared to some other. Nonetheless we were very proud. Therefore this was another instance I easily navigated in, and it pleased me to see that everything is pretty much still the same. Some changes on the scarlet-side, but nothing serious. I was blessed with a good group for this, so everything went smooth and it was actually quite interesting to see the process from a healer’s perspective. There’s not that much damage going around here, but be prepared for some decursing. Especially if you’re specced into Nature’s Cure.
Zul’farak
Those who know me are aware that I have a fondness for desert-areas. I love them. They’re cozy. You could stretch it to include generally any area in which you felt all on your own, exploring the unknown. Kinda like when you were a child and pretended to go on an adventure in the neighbor-forest. That’s likely why I always make sure to quest in Tanaris and Badlands, and Uldum is the best part of Cataclysm. And likely why the redesigned Dark Shore and Azshara were a let-down for me.
But I’m going off on a tangent here.
Short story: Love ZF. Trolls and desert. And you can mount in it.
Therefore I was shocked when I realized I was two bars from being too high level, which meant I immediately went for the Healer-Mooh-bile.
And the Bly & the Gang event bugged on us, just after I dinged. Group dispersed. Gg.
I hate you, Bly. Stop being such a slow fuck. But from what I saw, still a nice scenic instance.

And btw.; Tanks. Please. Please. Please.
If your group is engaging mobs; Please don’t run so far away that your healer has to choose between who to stay at. Our heals don’t work like that. If you stay and help till the mobs are down, things will go a lot faster, your healer will use less mana, and you will get to the boss quicker.
Okay?
Uldaman
I was afraid that Uldaman would be hard. It’s been almost two years since I was there, and I remember it as quite challenging back in the days. Truth is, it isn’t. It really isn’t. It’s not even as scenic as I remember it. It looks very outdated compared to so much else, the layout is boring and pretty much the same, and you trudge along those corridors for ages, pull some random dudes and kill them quickly so you can kill more random dudes. I know this is the epitome of dungeons but it seemed so exaggerated here. Don’t know why.
Group was good, we had a nice talk and laugh as we got lost a few times. This is basically why I’d wish I had a guild with similar-level characters I could do this with. After all there is nothing like chilling a bit on vent while killing monsters.
TLDR: I recommend doing Uldaman at least for the nostalgia. Just don’t expect miracles.

Scarlet Monastery
*Rain poured down and the obsidian sky was teeming with thunder on that very night. Leaning against the edge of the window, Sally Whitemane was barely visible in the ascetic torchlight, as if she could fade into gloom at any given second. As she eyed the burning remnants of the once proud monastery, she frowned with disapproval and drew a long sigh that made her slick leather-harness cling to her body and push up her tightly bound pale breasts. Behind her the door made a rusty scream, a warning of ill times to come, as scarlet commander Mograine entered.
For a slight moment, silence ruled the chamber unopposed.
“It’s him again, isn’t it?” Sally’s dark silhouette asked. Mograine dared only nod.
“He’s come to finish the job, m’lady. And he brought friends.”
“Of course he did!” the priestess sneered. “Just like he did with Doan…and the hound-master. I imagine the courtyard is already booming with their cry for vengeance. Shouts of former glory and how blood shall taint the once holy earth…”
“Actually, my lady—“
“How we have defiled what was once righteous, and how our downfall shall signal a glorious era free of oppression. How wrong we were, and how retribution shall take away the spoils of war from our greedy, tainted hands!”
“No!” Mograine interrupted. His lips were tight. “No…In fact…we only saw the cow once. He ran around, behind four others. And, the only thing we ever heard them scream was something like… “I R NOT GUN TANK IF U KEEP PULLIN LEIK THAT U FAGG!!!” ..and “LOL NUB TANK I HAFF A LEVEL 86 DK-TANK AN PULL LEIK TWENTY GROUPS @ ONCE!!11”
Sally’s eye narrowed. The rain had started spilling into the room. This was it.
The cow was coming.*

(No fan-fiction without Whitemane sexual innuendo, remember?)
And mostly because…well. It was Scarlet Monastery. Pretty much everything here seemed the same, the bosses were the same, mobs the same, pulls the same. Retarded players the same. DPS going on a pulling spree, which was absolutely a thrill in the cathedral and of course, I got my Illusionary Rod.  Happy cow.
I have many fond memories of this place too, but again I feel it has become a lot more easy than back in the days. This is actually one of the few instances in which I got to tank on my warrior, and I remember it to be a bit more intense. Good thing was that even I couldn’t get lost in there.

Coming to an end…

Outlands now before me, nobody can tell where the next step of my journey will take me. Having left Azeroth behind, Mosaique sets out to make contact with a whole new group of natives called “Teh Dk’s”. This odd classification of individuals is said to house some of the greatest, but also dumbest, of persons. Will he tolerate them and make his living throughout the Hellfire citadel, or succumb to the sheer idiocy of it all? Only time will tell, so better get those Cenarion Bracers from the AH, and get going.
Northrend awaits.

Keep a lookout for chapter 3.