Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting past a hurdle

Last night in Naxx, I was consistently doing over 2500 dps in boss fights, which is decent, but not as high as I want. After watching Flip and looking at recount and WowWebStats, it's obvious that I'm not hitting shadowbolt as much as I should be. With practice, that will change.
With that said, here are some questions to ask when you hit a challenge:
  1. Are my most important stats maxxed? If you are dps and you are not hit capped, you are wasting your time trying to improve anything else. The same could be said for tanks and both defense and hit.
  2. Are there gear improvements I can make outside of raiding? Look at rep and badge rewards, as well as quest rewards. Make sure what you have is gemmed and enchanted.
  3. What are others doing that I am not? Use the tools you have available, including watching the other person's castbar if you can. If all else fails, ask. Most players will be thrilled to hear that you've noticed how good they are, and will tell you what they do.
  4. Are there addons or peripherals that would help me? I bought my gamepad at Younger's suggestion when I was asking him about an issue I was having with tab-targeting.

Raiding with a disabilty is difficult, but so is everything else. Above all, have fun with it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hitting the wall

As a competitive medium-distance swimmer in high school, I am very familiar with the term "hitting the wall". It's used for the moment in a race where you feel you can go no farther, and you have to reach deep within yourself to keep going.
It's starting to feel like every time I take two steps forward, I take one step back, and I don't know why. Flip tells me I just need to get more comfortable, and that may be it. As I get better and more comfortable, I'm doing more in fights, and that will affect my dps.
The biggest worry I'm confronting is if I belong in a raiding guild. As I look at CRC, I realize that history will not completely repeat itself, that sometimes being in a guild is just about friendship and support, and sometimes the process is as enjoyable as the results.
Time to push off the turns and keep going!

Monday, January 26, 2009

In memory of Kay Yow

This morning, I was all set to post an article about what to do when you hit the wall in raiding. As I was folding clothes and watching the morning news, however, I saw the sad news that Kay Yow, the women's basketball coach at North Carolina State University, passed away over the weekend from breast cancer.
Coach Yow was in her second year of battling her disease when I started my freshman year at NCSU, and her fight was well-publicized. When I attended a women's basketball game the next spring, I was impressed by her energy, and the fact that she so obviously cared about the women who played for her.
Coach Jim Valvano summed up the Wolfpack spirit when he said, "Don't give up. Never, ever give up." Coach Yow embodied it in her 22 year fight.
I close with this thought. I've had a very challenging couple of weeks in real life, and had a very discouraging raiding night last night, but I know if I dig in and fight, that I can do whatever I need to.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Did you get anything?

That was my husband's question to me during my 10-man Naxx run last night. My answer was, "there's nothing I need". The true answer, albeit longer, is that I got some new achievements (we didn't kill any spores!), I saw the guild's newest 80 get some great upgrades (grats Ximh!), and I had a great time running with my friends. Raiding doesn't always have to be about loot. Sometimes it's about stretching yourself and doing more than you ever thought you could.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Special Hardware

If you go to the computers section of an electronics store, or the hardware section of a gaming store, you will find that there are several hardware options for the serious gamer. These can be a huge help for a disabled gamer as well. My husband, who is nondisabled, uses a special gaming keyboard that he can bind spells to for each of his toons.
I use a Belkin n52te gamepad. It sits opposite my mouse, where it is very convenient for me to use with my left hand, and it has a palm rest, which is more comfortable and cuts down on excess muscle movement (the tanks don't appreciate it when you hit psychic scream by accident in the middle of Black Temple trash). Another advantage is the layout of the keys makes it very easy to cast quickly. It also has a macro feature that I am still learning to use effectively, but gets me very excited when it works.
Whatever hardware you use, make sure you understand how it works and practice before the raid. The target dummies in ironforge are perfect for setting up hardware, and combat macros.
Happy raiding!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Damage Meters: Friend or Foe?

I have a love/hate relationship with the damage meter.
The damage meter is a useful tool for raid management and self-improvement, but can also be abused. People who find is necessary to post the damage meter to show how "leet" they are annoy me. Raid leaders who look at the damage meter above all else are, in my opinion, short-sighted.
At the end of the raid last night, Dev did something he doesn't usually do - he posted the damage and healing meters to guild chat. I think part of the reason he did that was to show how high our top dpsers were getting. What it showed me is that I did over 2k dps overall, which is huge for me. I also cracked the top ten in a couple of boss fights. I've worked so hard for that moment. I'm so excited!
I run a personal damage meter, but I don't look at it during fights or it would drive me crazy. Flip doesn't run one, so I will whisper it to him during the raid so he can look at how I'm doing, and make sure he's on target with what he wants to do. I would suggest using the damage meter as a tool to help yourself improve, but don't base your self-worth, or even your image of yourself as a player, on it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Instancing on the Hunter again!

My hunter is my farmer, so I'm questing as a I level my mining and herbalism with the goal of getting her to 77 for cold weather flying. What I'm finding interesting is that I'm getting requests from guildies to run instances on my hunter. I still can't outdps the tank, and I'm very glad I haven't been asked to trap, but I'm having fun. Plus, in the world of abilitycraft, any opportunity to play a character that requires a lot of hand-eye coordination and reaction time can only result in improvements. Thanks guys, I had fun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


One of the biggest barriers I face on my casters and hunter is spellcasting/shooting efficiency. As much as I wish they would, haste potions won't help me push buttons any faster. One thing that will, though, is macros.
A macro is simply a command bound to a key or a mouseover. For instance, one of my favorites is a simple targeting macro. If I'm single-target dpsing, for instance, I might have a macro that says /assist . You have to put the tank's name in each time, but it does make it easier to acquire your target faster. If you are looking around for a target and trying to click it, that's time you aren't doing damage, and that affects dps.
A simple shackling or trapping macro that works well:
/cast [target=focus] Shackle Undead or /cast [target=focus] Freezing Trap
To set the focus, simply target your target and type /focus. This can be easily done before the pull. When I was playing the hunter in Kara, I had three different trapping macros for the Moroes fight because the tank I was assisting changed.
You can also set a macro for spell rotations. I have corruption and shadow bolt bound to the same key because I cast them in sequence, same with unstable affliction and immolate. The macro for this is /castsequence Unstable Affliction, Immolate. I press it once for Unstable Affliction, then again for Immolate. Instead of making my opening cast sequence 1,6,2,3,4,5,7; with two macros it becomes 1,1,2,3,3,4,5 and then can spam 6 (shadow bolt) until it is time to refresh.
A very helpful article I've found is
Happy raiding!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Weakest Link?

As the old adage goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. However, when we see a guildie struggling in his or her role, do we mimic the game show or give a helping hand?
I've been in guilds where the modus operandi was to talk about the person behind their back and/or dictate spec, gear, or spell rotation. Now there is a place for suggestions, and I've had the joy of working with some of the nicest guys I'd ever hope to meet in a video game. Some guilds will let people raid no matter what, which gets extremely frustrating for the other members of the group.
What I've experienced in my current guild is help, respect, and encouragement. Don't get me wrong, I get as much shit as anyone else when I mess up, but that's part of raiding together.
Instead of hearing from a third person where my issues are, the raid leaders and officers are talking to me. Instead of a class leader dictating to me, other guild members are offering their help and encouragement.
I offer a /salute to the members and leaders of CRC. I love you guys!

Monday, January 19, 2009

If I was a WoW toon, I would be...

a night elf druid, without question.
I've gone through 3 or 4 druids in my time on WoW before I finally levelled Carianna to 70.
My first druid that I played seriously on Turalyon I deleted after my husband got his first toon to 60 and left the guild we were in to raid. I created Carianna when he started travelling frequently and I wanted a good way to communicate with him. I also created a druid on Baelgun to get my place in the guild before I transferred the other toons from Anvilmar.
Carianna levelled feral to 70, and is now resto. As soon as I get my farmer where I want her, I will level the druid to 80. She will mostly be for pvp fun, although she will be available to raid if needed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My WoW Journey, Part IV - Affliction Warlock

During the days prior to the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, many people were looking at changing their main character, and I was no exception. So much of my history with the priest was negative, I wanted to change to the warlock as a fresh start. When I shared my decision with my GM Dev, I gave him ample opportunity to talk me out of it, but we needed warlocks, so he approved.
Learning to get awesome dps was a bit of a challenge. I started out using all my dots, but was told to only use three and get most of my dps from shadowbolt. As I struggled with dps and spell rotation, my friend and fellow warlock Flipflap offered his assistance, helping me with a spec that would allow me to maximize my shadowbolt crits. I still struggled, so I told Flip I thought full affliction would be better. I discovered that it's better for me to keep as many dots up as I can than to worry about having to spam shadowbolts when moving around in a raid.
Thank you, Flip! You rock!
Flip and Me waiting to cast our summoning circles before the Malygos fight

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My WoW Journey, Part III - Shadow Priest

Going from holy to shadow took a good bit of gold and work. I had to not only respec my priest, but I had to respec my tailoring from mooncloth to shadowweave. Then I made and gemmed my Frozen Shadowweave Set. First Kara run went okay, I thought, considering I was using my T5 shoulders instead of the Frozen Shadowweave. Unfortunately, after that run, a damage meter was shared and misinterpreted, and I decided it was time to find a new guild.
Joining a guild that was just getting into Kara after running SSC and the Eye was a really interesting experience. I learned so much about myself, and made some great friends along the way. Thank you, Zerum, and thank you Phantom Dragons for allowing us to merge with you and being so accepting. During this time I created my warlock to check it out.
While I was running around Kara and helping my guild get into Gruul, my husband decided to switch guilds. Eventually, real life events made making raids difficult, and my husband's guild was recruiting for a shadow priest, so I decided to apply. That is the single most important, best WoW decision I ever made.
I struggled with dps on the shadow priest, and wasn't sure if it was gear or spell rotation, or some combination. My husband mentioned that a shadow priest that had just started raiding again was the only one he got mana back from, and I took that to heart. When Younger broke the ice with me by asking me how I was doing on threat, I took the opportunity to ask for help. He helped me with spec and with spell rotation. Thank you so much, you totally rock!
With my shadow priest, I was able to clear Hyjal with my guild, and down Kael'Thas and Illidan.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My WoW Journey, Part II - Holy Priest

Mother's Day 2007 - the day I decided it was time to part company with my old guild and transfer Kyrania, who was at that time a level 58 holy priest, to Turalyon. Learning to heal was not an easy thing for me, but I got it. I used the addon healbot, which worked pretty well.
Once I began raiding, I was having to deal with criticism for being at the bottom of the healing meter. I wasn't sure what was going on until one night I watched the castbars of the other priests and realized they were casting 3 times as many heals as I was. My husband looked at Recount and came to the same conclusion. Why were they able to cast more than me? They could react quicker to bars going down than I could. I reached out and asked for help, but none came. My husband's suggestion was to go shadow, or roll a warlock. Since I already had some dps gear, I chose to respec shadow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My WoW Journey, Part I - The Hunter

I thought it might be a good idea to give a background of who I am, WoW-wise, and how I ended up playing a warlock.
When hubby and I decided that I was too hooked on WoW to be happy sharing an account, I decided to make a hunter. I liked the idea of having a pet, and I liked the way the night elves looked, plus the lore side was nice too. So I logged in after creating my trial account, and the screen popped up, "You have been assigned to the Anvilmar realm." I had no idea that I could choose the server where my husband played, so I hit accept. In retrospect, this decision allowed me to level my first 60 without feeling like I was in his shadow.
So, I leveled my hunter, making a lot of noob mistakes (as my levelling-to-60 buddy pointed out). Along the way, I made some great friends in NightHatchet Renegades on Anvilmar, which became Night Renegades when we moved to Baelgun. As I started running higher level instances in classic WoW, it became apparent that I was not suited to playing the hunter, so I decided to level a holy priest. The hunter stayed my main after the expansion, and moved to Turalyon with my husband's guild. Trapping ability and dps both became issues, and so I moved on to the priest and made my hunter my farmer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Northrend Dungeonmaster!

It was a quiet night in CRC land, and I really needed some Argent Crusade rep, so I decided to enter the often-scary world of Looking for Group. I put in reg Occulus, and a couple of heroics. I ended up going to Occulus with a pretty good group. The dragons are so much easier when you have successfully downed Malygos in heroic mode twice, I must say. I now am revered with Argent Crusade, and achieved Northrend Dungeonmaster!

The only negatives: my dps wasn't outstanding, but I kept pulling threat. :-(

I can't dance

So far, there have been very few challenges in Naxx that I haven't been able to overcome with hard work and positive thinking. The Safety Dance achievement in the Heigan the Unclean fight is one exception. By the time I got into Naxx, most of the guild had done the fight enough that nobody even bothered to explain it, leading me to believe that the eruptions were random. I've finally gotten frustrated enough to go to Bosskillers, and read about it (I know, I should have done that first, mea culpa).

Now I have some understanding of where the safe zones are and how to avoid the eruptions. The question comes, can I do it? And at the back of my mind is, does my challenge with this negate all the work I've done to rise above the tanks on the dps meter?

More to come...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How much to tell?

One of the biggest questions for me to answer for myself was how much I needed to tell guildies, especially raid leaders, about my disability. What do people need to know? What can people handle hearing? The truth is, even though we have made a lot of strides since the 1970's and 80's, there is still prejudice, and sometimes people think you are making excuses or looking for pity.

I applied to my current guild because my husband was in it, they needed a shadow priest, and my guild's raid times no longer fit my life. The guild was progressing through Black Temple (not the best place to have brain lag), so my husband did inform the GM that I have trouble with reaction time. As I raided through Hyjal and BT, some of the effects of the CP became obvious, and I learned to be open about them and accept suggestions.

My internal guidelines for what and how I share:

  1. Is this an excuse or a challenge? If I stand in a fire, poison, or a void zone because I'm not paying attention, the raid leader is rightfully going to see who else is on and replace me. If I'm having a hard time seeing red fissures on an orange background, I need to adjust my settings.

  2. Am I doing everything I can to learn about this fight and my role in it beforehand, so I can anticipate and perhaps mitigate challenges? One of my biggest win moments came when I put down a summoning circle to get myself out of harm's way during the Malygos fight. My fellow warlock tried it and discovered that it is possible to teleport out of vortex.

  3. Am I sharing this to get pity or help/support? Pity is counterproductive. If people pity you, they won't push you to get better, they won't be as likely to offer suggestions, and, above all, they won't respect you. My guildies know that I am feisty, stubborn, and love to see mobs go down.

  4. Do I work outside of raiding times to overcome challenges? I asked guildies to group with me so I could work on running past the frogger slimes in Naxx. I can successfully do it with the same success rate as a neurotypical person. I also tried to get into Thaddius's room to try to jump the platform, but the mobs guarding it respawn.

The last thing I will say is that a positive outlook works wonders. Remember the quote by Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can't or think you can, you're right."

Welcome to the World of Abilitycraft!

I was inspired to create this blog by two things. One is Beware Splinters, the fabulous blog written by my awesome friend Orbitz. The second was a conversation with my GM where I realized that although World of Warcraft is a great game to help people with a multitude of disabilities, there isn't a whole lot of information out there to help people with neurological disabilities play the game at a high level.

I started playing WoW in the summer of 2006, when my husband was getting tired of wife aggro. We were eating lunch one day and he said, "You'd probably enjoy playing it, why don't you make a character on my account and check it out?" I did, then progressed to a trial account where I made my hunter, Carolia, on Anvilmar (the suggested realm, but not the one my husband was on - more on that in a separate post). Carolia was followed by a dwarf priest named Kyrania, then Anvilmar became overpopulated and both toons moved with my guild to Baelgun. Later, they moved to my husband's realm where they joined my druid, Carianna (actually my third druid - long story). My main is now an affliction warlock named Carilock (are you seeing a pattern to my naming yet?)

In real life, I'm a wife and mother of two. I also live with cerebral palsy, which affects fine motor skills, coordination, and reaction time. This has made raiding a challenge, but with the help of understanding friends, addons, and peripherals, I've been able to clear a lot of the content in BC and Wrath.