Tuesday, June 30, 2009

10-man Ulduar clear!

The night after downing Yogg in heroic mode, I had the chance to go in and finish a 10-man Ulduar run that had been started earlier. Honestly, I wasn't feeling too good about it. There's been a lot of talk lately about recruiting another boomkin or shadow priest for the hit buff, but we have so many dpsers now that we can't take all of them in. I'm concerned that if we recruit another ranged dps, there will be no more room for me. I'm taking this whole situation incredibly personally, and am glad that Dev has said that recruitment stays closed.

We got a little bit of a late start, and there were a few bumps in the road along the way. It is so hard for me to not blame myself and not feel like I completely fail in a group. It's hard to feel like everyone is looking at me like I can't execute. Sometimes playing a MMO takes me back 30 years, and brings up painful memories of growing up disabled in a nondisabled world. The people around me who get it give me a precious gift in their understanding.
On our last attempt, we got Yogg-Saron down. No tears this time, just relief. There are still a lot of times when there is a disconnect between my raiding behavior and what my brain will let me do. I know I'm in the guild where I belong, but sometimes I wonder if I should be in a guild where I can contribute more. In the end, I'm here, and unless Dev tells me he wants me out of the raiding core (or hell freezes over), here I will stay.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ulduar is no longer a Secret!

We did it! We got everyone through Ulduar. The tears that didn't come when I took this screenshot are coming now. I knew this would be the week Thursday night, when Dem had to sub me out for Freya, and let me know by saying, "I will get you back in for Yogg."
All the hard conversations I've had over the past five or six months with Dem and Boom culminated in Boom and my positions being switched in the raid frame, and me coming in while he listened on vent. I can't say enough about those two young men who have taken the time to understand me and treat me with respect and dignity. Faced with the choice between what is right and what is easy, they have chosen to acknowledge my contributions to the success of the guild by letting me maintain my raid spot and get the achievements I have helped the guild attain.
It's been a rough road, and a journey I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to make. Thanks to all of CRC for making this happen! Special thanks to a couple of very special guys who convinced me to stick with the guild when I was wanting to quit pre-Ulduar (and who are probably not reading this anyway).
Onward and upward! ::::Gets out pompoms for cheering on hard modes::::

Friday, June 26, 2009

Anniversary week!

Two wonderful things happened yesterday. I got the Flame Warden meta-achievement done (finally!) and I got to be in some Ulduar boss fights, including a Kologarn where we got the Disarmed achievement.

A year ago today, I took my husband's suggestion and applied to Clan Redundancy Clan. My previous experience with joining him in a raiding guild was not positive, so I had a lot of fear and trepidation. The last thing I wanted was to come into the guild as "Oct's wife", afraid that people would either expect me to be a carbon copy of Oct or not want to say anything to me about my dps for fear of pissing him off. When I got to the part of the application that asked, "Do you know anyone in our guild?" I asked Oct if I should say he was my husband. He said, "yes," so I put it down, and mentioned the other friends I had in the guild. I finished the application, submitted it, and waited to hear from one of the officers. I didn't even think about checking my application thread until a few days later, when Oct looked at the guild forums and said, "Dev wants you to talk to him or Lucky in game."

Lucky was on, so I sent him a tell, and after a brief interview, he told me to let him know when I was ready for an invite. I told him I wanted to say goodbye to my old guild, and let the guild leaders know why I was leaving, and he respected that.

I explained to Daylin what was going on, and he asked me to let the leader who scheduled our raid times know. While I was waiting for her to come on, Oct got into his raid group for Mt. Hyjal and said, "Dev wants to know if you want to come in - we have a spot open." I thought about it for a minute - pugging meant a no-questions-asked gkick in my former guild - and decided to go for it anyway. When I got in the raid, my friend Veraya said, "Carol!" her husband Nyru said, "Carol!" and I immediately felt at home. As we were going through Frostwhisper trash, I got a tell from one of the tanks in my guild, "what are you doing in there?" I explained to him that I had already told Daylin I was leaving, and that I was just waiting for Snow to come on. He reminded me that if I was caught, I'd be kicked, and left it at that.

A short while later, I got a tell from Dev that a guild member had come on, and he needed me to step out. He thanked me for coming and told me he looked forward to having me in guild. Later, when Snow got online, I explained to her, and then the guild, what was going on. I left the guild, and found enough of a break in the action to send Dev a tell for an invite to guild.

I don't think I have ever been welcomed to a guild as warmly as I was to CRC, and I know I didn't blow anyone away with my skill as a shadow priest. I think I was expecting the guild to be full of guys with huge egos and to be treated rather harshly if I didn't measure up to their standards. What I found was that the guild is full of guys and ladies who are willing to give constructive criticism and suggestions.

I think the defining moment for me as a member of CRC came shortly after I got the warlock to 80 and the guild was in 25 man Naxx. It was a morning when only Dem and I were on, and I was getting ready to go to work. I said to him, "I don't think you'll need me, but if you do I'll be back around 8:30." He said, "Don't say it like that" and gave me the first of many pep talks. That was when I realized how much I was valued as a member of the guild.

It's been an interesting and fun year, one that has seen CRC go from a middle of the road guild in BC to one of the top progression guilds on the server in Wrath. Personally, I've learned how to survive encounters, and actually had 3.9k dps on Deconstructor.

Thanks for a great year, guys, and I hope to have many more together.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

At last, Loremaster!!!

This afternoon, in the quiet village of Auberdine, I achieved what I have been working on for a few weeks now: The Loremaster.
Immediately after this screenshot was taken, I was bombarded by congratulations from the guild. :-)
Another exciting development happened last night, when I got my 4th piece of tier 8 from a 10-man Ulduar run.
Congrats to the team from CRC that did 10 man Sartherion with 3 drakes up last night.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Legacy of "Passing"

Rare real-life whine here, just because I need to sit down for a few minutes.
I'm in a lot of pain today. My knees and hips feel like they have sand in the joints. Got up early, even before Bryan's alarm went off, and felt pretty good. Went through everything I want to get accomplished today in my head. After breakfast and a few minutes of putting away dishes, I went to the pill drawer for tylenol. Shortly after Bryan left, it was time for naproxen. I still hurt, but I can't do anything other than hope that frequent breaks will help.
On a break last week, while running a heroic, Gutts asked, "why are you hurting? what did you do?" I tried to explain that I didn't really do anything, that it's just part of life, but it felt strange.
I try not to fall into self-pity on the high pain days, try not to wonder how long I'll be able to walk and what happens when I no longer can. Welcome to middle age with cerebral palsy, when this mild, nonprogressive disorder reveals that even though the brain damage hasn't progressed beyond the initial injury 40 or so years ago, the wear and tear on muscles and joints has.
I first was exposed to articles on aging with my disability 15 years ago, when I was pregnant and concerned and discovered the online disabled community in the early days of AOL. There was an interesting article regarding the fact that those of us who could walk unaided were encouraged to participate in physical activities as much as our nondisabled peers. Adaptive physical education did not exist in my school district until I was in junior high school and my slow reaction time scared my regular PE teacher. I think about my time on a large college campus where walking from class to class was required and wonder if anyone would have considered a motorized scooter a good investment for me. Most of all, I laugh inwardly at the irony that the "good attitude" that was praised and encouraged was really denial that anything was wrong.
I could try to "pass" in the World of Warcraft. My slow reaction time looks a lot like not paying attention, and my dps is certainly good enough for most of the alliance guilds on the server. However, I belong where I am, and being honest with my friends has allowed me to play and contribute where I do.
Side note: A ray of sunshine came back into my online world over the weekend. Welcome back, Natazz!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Switching Up

Note: This entry was started Thursday night and finished Friday morning.

Thursday's raid was the most fun I've had in a while. Dev decided to switch people in and out since it was a regular mode night, and I got to be in for most of the raid. I am 5 emblems of Conquest away from my chest tier token aka 4 piece bonus, since I got the shoulders on Monday night. I also had a good email about my dad from my sister, and I have a job interview tomorrow.

Boom made me laugh tonight - as we were clearing to Vezax, he sent me a tell asking if I would mind stepping out for one of the rogues to come in, so we would have two kicks. I wasn't volunteering to step out because I figured after yesterday's rant, Dev would kill me if I did. Anyway, I sent Boom a tell back saying np, and asking him if he was seriously asking. His response was "I didn't want to be an ass about it." There is something endearing about how tenderhearted the guild officers can be sometimes.

I had a conversation with Dev Thursday night where he came the closest he ever has to telling me that there are encounters he will never put me in, specifically, hard-mode encounters. I'm not sure he will ever directly say that because we've had so many conversations about how my contributions to the guild go beyond my dps, and I don't react well to feeling reduced to a number on a meter. I don't envy Dev's position if hard modes and Algalon play out the way he thinks they will. One of the core philosophies of the guild is that we win or lose as a team. How do you keep that teamwork when you have raid members that can't be in certain encounters?

This is not a question that there is an easy answer to, and it provoked a question in my mind as to whether I'm still contributing even if I'm not in on hard mode fights, and if this is still the guild where I belong. The truth hit me in a blinding flash of insight this morning. All I was really hoping to do in Ulduar was beat Yogg. There will probably be a time when that will happen. As to where I belong, if anyone thinks I'm not good enough for the guild, they have not said it, at least not to me. As far as contributing, 3000 dps is better than nothing, and the value of support is impossible to measure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Left in the Dust

It's been a while since I've done an all-out bitch post, for a couple of reasons. One, there hasn't been much for me to bitch about, and Two, I always risk offending someone I really care about as a friend when I do it. Considering I actually went to the realm forums last night to see if any guilds are recruiting warlocks, I'd say it's worth that risk.

Before I go into what happened last night, I will say that I have had some scary emails from my sister over the past two weeks. My dad's white blood cells are at a point where his body cannot fight off infection, and she finally admitted to me that she is scared, so I know my fears are justified. I've known for 30 years that a simple infection could get out of control fast, but it's never been as real as it is now. I actually was in tears picking out a Father's Day card for him today, because I am so scared that this will be his last one.

Okay, last night. I had signed up early, and when I checked, was still listed as accepted, rather than standby. Go pick up my son from cross-country practice, come home and see Oct at Ulduar. Whisper Dem for an invite as I scroll up to see where I missed mine. No invite. Check the calendar, I'm listed as standby. Whisper Dem again, angry. No answer. Ask myself if I really want to quit a guild that I've been in for almost a year and has so many people I care about. The answer, plus the thought of a wall of pink text that would ensue, kept me from acting too hastily. I listened to the FL kill with two towers up, and couldn't do any more. By this point, it was all I could do to concentrate on questing in Silithus, and I kept alt-tabbing to read my sister's emails. At one point, we lost all our cable service, including internet, so I was able to discuss what was going on with my dad with Bryan and cry in his arms.

I feel like I'm being left behind in the guild. I feel like there is a whole tier of people that are the golden children, and I am the person they call on when they can't get anyone else. Sometimes it feels like progress gets ahead of people, and I'm not important. I understand that we have to progress and hard decisions have to be made, but I resent always being last. Oct doesn't understand, and I doubt he ever will.

Dammit, I'm not a horrible player, so why can't you get me in on the fights where I do well, even if I have to sit later? Why can't you at least let me try Hodir, since at this point the experience and gear gap is going to make it so I can't come in before too long? And why do I feel like I'm being thrown a bone every time I'm asked to come in?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Carilock the Seeker!

Well, I did it! 3000 quests completed. Finished it while eating lunch today after a morning of cleaning and worrying about my job interview this afternoon. Next up, Loremaster of Kalimdor, which will give me my Loremaster title.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Orbital Defense and Keepers!

Monday night, I went in to 10-man Ulduar and got my tier helm token, so I didn't need the emblems of conquest as much, but still wanted to raid this week of course. Dem and I had talked about the fact that I would get in this week, and as always, he was true to his word.
We decided to do Flame Leviathan with the Freya tower up, which is the hardest to manage because of adds. Dem went through who would drive and who would gun (I can appreciate him not having me drive, I do decently but not the best), and I was quite flattered when he assigned me to gun for him. We had a few bumps in the road, mostly involving people not completely being on the same page with strategy (I was so glad I had gone to Tankspot yesterday and looked at Ciderhelm's video), but we got it down! We were rewarded with fragments off the first 3 bosses.
We cleared the Siege and Antechamber, and did Mimiron as the first keeper. Flip was in the raid, so I wasn't tanking. I died to mines while trying to avoid laser barrage, but we got him down. That gave me the keepers of Ulduar achievement! The one thing that could have gone better was the management of Bomb Bots. I had my macro set to target one, cast corruption, and target last target, so I don't even see if they are in range for me to hit. I changed the macro to take out the target last target, so at least now I will know if I'm hitting it, so the melee doesn't have to run to it.
I'm not dying very much at all anymore, and on most fights, I do pretty consistent 3k dps. The fights I don't are fights in which there are a lot of adds, which probably get burned down before my dots can do much to them. I know that on the Hodir fight, right now I don't need to be in for hard mode, for two reasons. First, I've not broken 4k dps on any fight in Ulduar, as documented by WMO reports. Secondly, I can't guarantee that I will never have more than 2 stacks of Biting Cold on me at any time. There's part of me that says, "How will I get better if I don't get in to practice?" The answer is 10-mans and the fact that things happen and you never know when you will be needed for a raid.
At one point between Thorim attempts, I got a tell from Dem asking if I had enough badges for my tier helm or chest. I reminded him that I had gotten my head Monday night and asked him if that was the only reason he kept me in. He replied, "No, I told you I'd get you in this week." Still, it's nice to have a GM/Raid Leader who cares about what all 30 of his raiders need. The top players in each role are always going to get what they need, just by virtue of always getting spots. It takes a lot of character to look at someone who struggles, but is always there, and say, "You are not forgotten."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms!

I haven't been posting much lately. Real life has hit me in a very real way lately, so I've had to focus on that. I'm realizing how deep my feelings of not being able to measure up are, and the very real impact they have on my marriage.
I got Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms Saturday morning, while the guild slept and Oct worked on his horde mage. I'm less than 100 quests away from the Seeker title, and then it's a long road to Loremaster.
Last night, Clan Redundancy Clan became the 5th alliance guild and the 7th guild on Turalyon to down Yogg-Saron. Grats to the raid team! I was sitting on the bench, questing and wondering if I'd be needed.
It's exciting to me that we can fill our raids and have a bench, since when we downed Archimonde, we were barely filling out raids. I give Dem a lot of credit for building the guild into such a strong team.
It was kind of interesting to have a week where I didn't get into a 25 man raid at all, but it was a good break. I'm looking forward to getting in on some hard modes, getting enough badges for my tier 8 helm, and killing Mimiron and Yogg.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I am not the stumbling block!

"I won't be the last one in line. I finally figured out what's mine." - Shinedown, Breaking Inside

Last night we tried for a 25-man alt Naxx, but didn't have enough, so some of us continued a 10-man Ulduar from earlier this week. Iron Council took us a couple of attempts to get, but we got it and I could see the death runes. I also got a new set of bracers. I'm exchanging hit for spellpower, but it's working for now. Freya went pretty smoothly. I was the only lock, and Oct was the only mage, so we were on crowd control for the adds. I was really pleased with how I did on banishing. Grats, Baby, on your fourth piece of T8!
On to Mimiron, and as the sole warlock, I knew I would have to tank. Luckily, Flip was in on his DK, so he was available to give me advice. It went okay, except I was having trouble reacting to the runes. The changes they are making to the rockets will help immensely with that, so I guess I can be happy about that nerf. No, I don't usually like it when bosses are nerfed. Easy-to-kill does not equal accessible. Sometimes it just means that people who don't put the work in can reap the rewards anyway, and sometimes it really isn't a help for those of us that have worked at learning the boss.
At any rate, I successfully tanked phase 3 a couple of times, only to have us fail in phase 4. I learned something in our attempts though. First of all, there are times when I am so overwhelmed that my reaction time slows down to keep me from completely freezing up. I also learned that if we can't get a boss, it's not always me. I'm so conditioned to being replaced that the first person I look to blame is myself. That's not a bad thing if I'm seeing things that I can do better, but it is if it means that I don't have the confidence to perform. In the end, I'm a better player than my disabilities let me be, and I can and will continue to overcome what I can to shine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Falling down and getting up

I think that pretty much describes last night's raid. Yogg-Saron is not easy, that's why he's the last boss you can do without hard modes. I was reminded of something that Lootlegend of Aeon said to me a couple of weeks before they downed him, "Yogg is being a b****." Yes, he is.
Still, we got some very well-controlled phase 1 attempts, and one or two really good phase 2 attempts. I think it is realistic to say that we could see phase 3 next week.
We tried a new phase 1 strat last night where we were trying to move around as a group and avoid clouds while dpsing the mobs in the middle. I started getting very agitated, because it became clear to me very quickly that I could not succeed with that strategy. Several attempts with additional spawns later, we went back to our old strat of staying by the door, but instead of having a paladin tank stay at the door and the other tanks moving the guardians to the middle, all three of the tanks kept the same guardian and moved it to Sara to be killed. That worked really well, when the dps was well-controlled and no one accidentally spawned additional adds. Nothing wrong with trying a new strategy, but there's also no use in blaming your raid for being who they are.
One thing that I have seen on the two Yogg attempts I've been in on has been a bit of negativity in the core and leadership. I ended up accidentally spawning an add because, in moving away from a cloud, I didn't move towards the door when I should have and ended up squeezed between to clouds. That was my mistake and I owned up to it. What followed was comments implying that people didn't realize how serious accidentally spawning additional adds was. It wasn't directed at me personally, but it felt like it was, and I threw my headset on my desk and walked into the kitchen. Oct was in full elitist raider mode, and I can't talk to him when he's like that. I almost broke my rule about whining in raid chat last night, but I think Dem would have taken me up on gkicking me if I had. Came back to the computer, ported to Yogg's prison, and got ready to go. Tell from Flip, "just stay by the door" my response "I'm trying, i'm trying - why do people seem to think i'm ****ing up on purpose?" he said, "Carol, i don't think anyone thinks that." That calmed me down, as did the gentle tone in Dem's voice when he said, "Carol just let us know when you're ready" after I hit no on the ready check.
I think negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you assume that people aren't trying instead of believing the best, it stresses everyone out. Orbitz, who is now back to full-time raiding (yay!), made the comment to me about how quiet it was on vent. I told her it was because everyone was concentrating, and it was the same way in BT and Hyjal. Naxx never really stressed us the way Ulduar is. Yogg-Saron reminds me a lot of the Archimonde fight in the complexity and margin for error department. We just need to dig in, talk about what we can do better, share our challenges, and swallow our excuses.