Showing newest 24 of 27 posts from March 2008. Show older posts
Showing newest 24 of 27 posts from March 2008. Show older posts

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Woman in WoW - are you discriminated?

I don't know why, but in spite of the fact that I've wanted to write a blog post about gender perspectives of World of Warcraft for quite a long time now, at the same time, I've hesitated about it for some reason. Maybe it's because of fear to be misunderstood, or to rather strengthen than work against the stereotypes and prejudices that are around, simply by raising the issue.

But now the time has come, I'm ready to have a look at the question about female and male things in WoW and ask myself: do I ever get treated differently because I'm a woman?

One thing that is quite obvious is that the graphic sometimes is rather full of clichés. You just have to watch the log in screen in Stormwind to see the female ideals. The design of the clothes is a bit odd sometimes, like last Christmas, when female characters were expected to run around half naked with small bikinis, while the male ones had real Santa Claus costumes to put on themselves. Some female models swing their bottom so much when they run that it looks quite stupid. And it seems to be mandatory to go through breast enlarging operations in Azeroth.

But all of these are things that I can be patient with, there's no difference to any kind of popular culture, that's the way things are even in comics and movies. The main issue for me is that the stats are the same, that the gear doesn't divert when it comes to function. As long as a female warrior hits as hard and can take as many hits as a male one I'm happy.

What about the players behind the characters then? Are they as full of clichés as the game? No, generally not, I would say. Or rather: I don't think that I being a girl is treated worse or differently if I compare it to how I'm treated in society. Of course there are a few ignorant bastards that think that the natural place for a woman is the kitchen, and that doubt the existence of serious female gamers. But such idiots exists everywhere, you can find them at your work as well. In the game it's even easier to avoid them, you're free to put them on Ignore and problem is solved.

An example of gender prejudices that I do meet now and then is that other players seem to take it for granted that my other half plays WoW. He certainly doesn't, on the contrary he hates it, my playing is a constant subject for conflicts as in so many other homes of gamers. But there seems to exist an idea that if a girl is playing WoW it's because of her boy friend, not out of her own passion for it. When you think about it it's kind of funny that I so often get that question, if he plays WoW. I don't think that people in the same taken-for-granted way will ask male players if their girl friends play as well.

After all I don't really mind it so much, it doesn't upset me. And I don't care if the speech on the vent sometimes becomes a bit... well... male. After all, it's a team play, you have to take things easily sometimes, be forgiving. Else it just won't work.

On one occasion I went really mad. It was when an ex guildie went over every line and uttered a to say the least stupid commentary about girls being worse players than guys, since they weren't as goal oriented, competitive and motivated. Girls, according to him, would by default never reach the same levels as the guys. This made me furious, expecially since he himself was a perfect example of the opposite. Recently he had endured huge problems performing the task he was assigned on one of the bosses I Karazhan, being the cause for number of unnecessary wipes for the raid. A task that I knew that a female friend of mine would be able to do with her eyes shut. And now he of all people had the guts to generalize about the shortcomings of female players! Smack! I gave him a verbal box on the ears on TS. Probably he didn't change views, but at least from now on he was wise enough to keep his thoughts to himself.

What about sexual harassment, does that exist? Well, I've heard about girls that suffer from sloppy suggestions from pimpled teenage boys dreaming about cyber sex. But in reality I've never encountered it myself. And I haven't noticed the opposite either, that you could use your gender and flirt in order to get favours that male players wouldn't get. Or, to be honest, I haven't consciously acted that way myself. But what don I know, it's possible that I've been treated better sometimes without striving for it or even noticing. And if that is the case I guess I should be forgiven for it.

Gender is anyway for most of the time a non existing issue, even in the normally notorious pugs. One explanation could be the uncertainty of how things are: just because someone has a female char it doesn't necessary mean that there's a girl behind the keyboard. If you thoughtlessly start to flirt with her you could end up like a fool, it could as well be a guy making fun of you, taking screenshots that he wants to spread out over the world.

I've never done anything to hide my gender. For some reason I prefer to play female chars, it would feel odd for me to run around in a beard, since I somehow identify with my chars. If someone asks I never lie, but simply tell them that I'm a girl and what age I am. The last piece of information sometimes makes young boys gasp, especially if the question comes up after running an instance together. But we don't stick to the subject for long. As long as I do my job as a mage, show that I'm a competent player, I may be female, man or hermaphrodite, it just doesn't matter.

Are there any things that differ? Is there something that is typical for female or male players? No, honestly I don't think so. It's not only guys that compete with each other, looking at gear stats, fighting to get higher on the dps lists. Winner skulls you find also among us girls, I would say. But since we after all are in minority you probably won't notice us as much.

Maybe there is one small difference after all. I think it may be a bit more common among girls to have bad confidence, to underestimate their capacity as players. At least that is the only reason I can see why I until this day never have met any female player leading a raid or even marking in a 5 man instance. This fact annoys me a bit. There is some kind of exaggerated humility among some female players (I tend to show that behaviour too), we sort of apologize, "No, but little I shouldn't..." "You guys know that better..." When we should trust ourselves and take what we deserve just like anyone else.

Now it isn't the obvious choice to have a mage marking in an instance, so I guess I can blame that fact (in combination with that I'm relatively new as player) that I myself never have agreed to mark and lead. I guess I'm a bit lazy as well, after all it's more convenient to let another player handle most of the thinking and just obey orders. It takes time and effort to study an instance so well that you can remember the suitable kill order and what cc methods that work best on respective mob.

But at some point in my WoW life, when I've become a little more experienced, I'll push myself over that threshold as well. While I'll keep patting my cute pet rabbit, and by doing so probably confirming every prejudice you could possibly have about female players.

Prejudices are there to be questioned - and to be confirmed whenever you like. Yes, I have chosen to have a cute character with pink pony tails, a chicken in the bag, letting out hugs and kisses and emotes around her, behaving like a happy puppet, especially whenever a boss goes down. "Typically girls" probably some guys think, and it's possible that I lose some respect that way. But at the same time I'm just as interested as anyone else to watch the crits in the combat log, to study the gear and damage of myself and others and above all to challenge myself. I've got a lot of guts in me, I want to push my raiding as far as I can, I don't settle with tranquil flower picking and cooking, if anyone thought so. In short: I REFUSE to be sorted into a box, one way or another.Most of all I'm a human being, or maybe rather a WoW player (I guess we're a different kind). When I play the gender is subordinated. At least in the mind of Larísa.So for me the answer of the question I threw out in the beginning will be: No. I'm not the slightest discriminated and I'll never be. Frost nova, blink, turn around, icy veins, pull an trinket, BAM few godd spells and that idiot is down. Speechless.

Simple, isn't it?

Friday, March 28, 2008

A jump into the pool

Finally it was time to have a look at Sunwell Isle! When I mounted the bird in Ifronforge this Wednesday I was at first a bit frightened to see the long flightpath the way it appeared on the map. Would I be sweeping THAT far over open sea? It seemed as exciting as that occasion when I fell from the boat and kept swimming until I gave up from fatigue...

Thankfully the map didn't show reality. A shortcut made it feel rather like a teleportation, but with a softer landing in the end, where you could cruise over some now, unknown, suncovered beaches. So lovely the first time! Maybe not that lovely after a month, but who did think about that at a moment like this?

So there I was, far from alone. The framerate sank like a stone and I moved stiffly, almost blinking my way in different directions, trying to orient myself. To turn down the video settings helped a little, but oh, this was laggy.

"Do you think there are a lot of people? You should have seen when TBC was launched. There was a huge crowd around every single pig in Hellfire", my hardened coplayers declared.
For me this was enough of people. I picked up a few daily quests and run around killing things, thanks god in a group, since I still found it hard to get a picture of the place as well as the mobs in this crowding.

Afterwards it dawned upon me what the place reminded of, suiting, considering the name of the island: it was exactly the same feeling as at the outdoor public pool a hot summer day in the city where I live, where there's no lake suitable for swimming for miles. People stand packed in the water, trying to make a swimming stroke, but of course they just hit each other with the arms all the time. To actually swim is out of the question. You mostly stand there splashing a bit. That's exactly how things were at this island. To move systematically, in well considered fashion, was out of the question. Mostly I ran around aimlessly, sometimes I ran into a coplayer, sometimes into a mob (there were pretty many of them, in spite of the fact that there was a bizarre amount of corpses all over the place, I guess they spawned quickly). No, to make myself a better picture of the island I think I have to come back in a more odd time of the day, to explore it in my own pace.

What about Magisters Terrace? Yes, I got the opportunity to try it out the first day, together with my guild, which I was very grateful about, to pug it on the first day with this lag and general confusion would have been daring. We ran it through on normal, which you have to do in order to qualify for the heroic version. We didn't experience any big difficulties - we had a lot of cc (hunter-warlock-mage) and could easily manage the quite a few huge pulls. The environment was a mix of outdoor and indoor surroundings, where the gardens made you think of Scarlet Monastery, but with more colour and in blood elf style.
The movie thing in the middle of the instance was a nice thing, even though I doubt you'll see it more than once. Anyway I hope Blizzard will do what they'll been talking about, offering movie sequences in the instances in the expansion.

Most fun was - of course - the end boss, sending us upp in the air, swimming around among bubbles. There was birds flying, eggs spinning in the air, a lot of colour and effects. I felt a bit like being in the middle of one of the movies from Disneys more surrealistic periods. Dumbo and Alice in the Wonderland, I've always suspected was produced under the influence of... well... something.

Then the party was over and we took a handy shortcut out by an orb, being rewarded with a awesome gem each, for me a Runed Crimson Spinel that will come handy once the badges reward vendor opens up the shop. That was some bag of candies you brought home from this party! No less than two 20 slot bags had dropped on our way. And the gold kind of flooded during the night. A decent contribution to my funds, I'll see if it was an extraordinary happening or if it's a trend. Who knows, maybe it will be a bit easier to build up your savings from now on.
In spite of the crowd I must say that the first jump into the pool was nice. The fact that the game crashed every time I teleported from the island - well that's children diseases that we can forgive now in the very beginning.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clueless about badges

The patch is happily downloaded and by now I'm pondering about my badges. That will be the subject for today's reflection.

For the time being I have about 150 badges, and I hope to get more in a decent pace. But if I should buy everything I would need about 560 badges, so I have to wrestle my mind, considering how to make the best out of my assets. What would give the best dividend per badge? Where are the bargains?

Unfortunately I don't see any obvious answers. Most of the items won't give me an upgrade on all of the stats, there's always one or another drawback (I guess they've done it intentionally, those cleaver game developers). And one thing is for sure: whatever I chose I'll have to look over all of my gear, to make sure it's got the right composition and the best gems for the new circumstances. I'll need new enchants for sure. So the upgrades won't just cost me badges, but also quite a lot of gold. But of course it's nice looking forward to certain gear upgrades!
The badges loot is debated on some forums. The veterans whine, finding it disturbing that casuals like us will be able to put our hands on gear with almost the same stats as the items that drop in the highest raid instances. They have worked so hard for their drops, and here we come, getting them "almost for free".

Here I've got an objection: the gear is far from free. Of course, if you're a member of a guild that has Kara on farm, giving you the possibility to run the daily heroic three times a week, you'll get about 50 badges a week without any problem. But that's not the way things are for a majority of the players! There are still loads of players that have never put their foot into Karazhan and that are happy if they manage to complete even one single heroic instance in a week.

For these people getting even 60 badges for a ring will be a huge project. And once they get it I think they deserve it just as well as any hardcore raider.

Another thing to remember is that there's a difference in what you feel for a piece of gear that you've had as a drop and something that has been crafted or bought for badges. At least when it comes to me. The drops have always a memory connected to them. Like the Prince dagger. I'll never forget the night I got that one, it was the first time we downed him at all. One of the happiest nights I've had in the game. Now there will be the Scryer's Blade of Focus with slightly better stats to buy for 150 badges. It will hardly be topping my wish list, it's simply a bit too expensive in comparison to the quite small upgrade. But let's say that I eventually will be literary bathing in badges, and actually will buy it. The stats will be better, but something will be missing. The nostalgia. The fact that it's equivalent to about 50 heroic instances won't help, there's nothing to hang up your memories on.

It's the same thing when I inspect others. If I see someone dressed up in badges loot it doesn't tell me anything, except for that he or she has been hard-working. Specific drops from raid bosses is a completely different thing. Aha! You've taken down the xx-boss in the x-instace. Cool!

So even though I guess it will be more common to see players in full epic gear with great stats, I don't think it will diminish the value or feeling of the gear that has been acquired by hard work in raid instances.

The badge loot is only a threat for players with very low self esteem. It gives more guilds the possibility to come a little further in the game before the expansion than they would have else. And why should you not let them do that?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fixed and patched

The Day has arrived! The Sunwell patch is rolling out right now and when we switch on the pc tonight it will be as exiting as always on a patchday.

First thing: will the patch download painlessly? It seems as though the preloading has gone smoothly, but you never know. For me the patching is usually quite slow. Often I get a yellow light and a " you appear to be behind a firewall"-message, until the computer finally gives up and let the new information, mildly protesting.

Second: the nervous waiting to see what has happened to all the addons. Which ones do still work and which have become just a mess? Since the last huge patch I've put down quite a great job into improving my UI and I'm afraid a lot of this will be a waste.

But optimist as I am of course I hope to pass those obstacles and that I tonight will be able to taste some of the new content. It will be lovely, to say the least.

The very thought of getting access to a new area makes me smile. And the idea that the place will change when the server is progressing is simply wonderful. A world in development! We want more of that!

There will be loads of new daily quests that I of course have to check out some time, although I doubt that I'll make them all. More attractive is the new five man instance - I wonder how fast I'll be able to run it? And will it be enough to run it once in normal mode to be attuned to make it in heroic? I haven't found int out yet, but I guess I'll see.The 25 man instance is something I can just forget about, it's far beyond my reach. And the fact that they've skipped the attunement for Black Temple is nice, but in reality it doesn't make a huge difference, it doesn't take me one step closer to actually running it.

But there are so many other things to be happy about. Above all: all the new gear that I'll be able to buy for badges. That is the question that most of all is is occupying me and any other player with badges in the bank. What should I chose?

To be continued.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Very Special Moments

When is the very best moment of the whole raid? Is it in the second, when the end boss, the main target of the night, finally seems to have decided to let go of the 1 percent stadium, that he somehow strangely always seems to stuck on, when I take his last breath, stumbles a few steps and falls to the ground and the cheering starts on the vent?Or is it when you for the only time in history roll 99 and sweep away that missing set piece you've been longing for months to come up?

Or maybe the magical moment is during actually raiding. In the middle of the fight, when the vent goes silent. You're focusing completely on what you're doing, you're absorbed by the game, you have full control of all of your meters, o the fight, of your coplayers, and you know that everybody else has it too. You are a cog in a fantastic machinery, a team that is using it's full potential. You may not realize it then, when you're in the middle of it, you have other things to think about, but afterwards you'll know that it was in that very moment that you were as happy as you'll ever be in the game.

Or maybe it's just like it is in Christmas. Never is the Christmas as wonderful as late, late the night before Christmas Eve (the day we celebrate in Sweden), when the smell of the traditional freshly cooked ham is spreading through the house, when all the gifts are wrapped up and you've done verses on all of them, when the house is cleaned (well, a bit at least), the Christmas tree is decorated, the fridge is full of food, and the relatives are still friends. The preparations are done and all the expectations are still there, all the possibilities. That is exactly how it is the moment before the first pull. Everything is in place, everybody has sharpened their weapons, taken their boosting drugs, adjusted the bags, thought over the strategies and taken a deep breath. Focus. Presence. End of muddling. You know that the raid will happen, there's no late no-show-up, no dc, no ill-just-fix-this-thing. Now the adventure will start - and no matter if it will be a tough learning-a-new-boss-fight-night or a more easy we've-got-the-boss-on-farm-night anything can happen. The parcels are still there, unopened. The magic is in the air. The play can start.

Of course with raiding there'll always be a lot of very Unspecial Moments. Moments of waiting and fuzz. Endless corpse runs. Things just don't work out. Prolonged discussions about loot. Information on boss strategies that you've heard one hundred times before, that will turn into something like the security review on an air plane. It's hard to focus on, even though you know that you should.

But in the memory still the golden moments will stay. And it's hard to pick one above the other, they're rather like a pearl necklace of small pills of happiness, from the first pull to the last loot. The necklace that make us willing to pay the price and grind for gold, gear and consumables.
Very Special Moments

Monday, March 24, 2008

Larísa ranks five man instances

Which one is your favourite instance? That is an endless subject for discussion in many WoW forums.

For some reason the lists are often topped by Deadmines. I can't help thinking that nostalgia is one of the reasons. Maybe you thinking about your first experiences from instance playing - the pleasure of novelty, the fascination, the challenge. But certainly it's got charm. I like the variation of the rooms, there are a lot of small cleaver details, like the one where you open one of the doors by using a cannon. And the boat - yes I get as happy every time I see it, no matter if I'm about to boost someone or be boosted myself. Suddenly there's light and space, pirates speaking with a funny accent. And a smart door to the back for a smooth exit. Less charming is the endless corpse run from the graveyard and the risk for a poor gnome renounce of sense of direction to get lost in the mine labyrinth.

Another favourite in the old world is Zul Farrak. I appreciate Egyptian temples, and of course the stair scene is very vivid in my memory. It's simply a lovely instance, just as Stratholme is, although it's got a completely different style with all those rats and dark, cobblestoned streets.
Unfortunately I suspect that the later one nowadays is sadly left out, since Outland is awaiting when you're getting close to level 60. If you're going to Stratholme it's probably not to gear up, but rather to feel the atmosphere. And that's no bad reason when you think about it.

Instances that are less attractive in the old world... Well that would be Stockade. I've never understood the idea about that place at all. It's hard to find anything more static, predictable, unimaginative, yes even boring. 19 identical prison cells and some guys messing around in the corridors.... AND? I ask with my most whining teenage voice. That the situation in the middle of Stormwind is brilliant doesn't make up for the boredom of it.

Over to TBC. Here it's hard to decide clear winners or losers. Durnhold Keep at least is a winner. I like there's a thread, a story that is moving forward throughout the instance. It's not just a bunch of bosses that are put there like in a museum exhibition. Something's happening all the time. And the outdoor setting gives an extra plus, there's no risk for claustrophobia. Black morass gets a high grade due to the intensity of it, although you can hardly say it's varied.
I like large, challenging pulls. They make my mage sheeps popular, they demand perfect cooperation and - sometimes, when things go wrong - improvisation. That's why Shattered Halls is an instance I like to go, especially with a rogue in the party, so I don't have to wade through slime.

The Netherstorm instances are also top rated, mostly thanks to the wonderful resurrection place just beside it (completely different from the boring pipe swimming in Zangar) and the free health and mana potions that drop there. Perhaps I've ran Mechanar a few times too many to give it a high rating. Then I prefer Botanica, with all it's flowers, bright colours and transparent floors - it's a bit like paradise, and I laugh every time I'm polymorphed into a flower. (Talking about that, shouldn't the end boss rarely drop a book for mages to train polymorph flower? Please, Blizzard?)

All in all, it's hard to pinpoint The Best Instance. It depends on the shape of the day, my mood and - above all - the group. The right group can make any instance into a pleasure - while a terrible group (read PUG) can destroy everything. I think my feeling towards the instances is coloured unconsciously by the experiences I've had. And some instances I've done too little to be able to give them any judgement. Auchenai Crypts. Have I done it at all into the end? I doubt it, and I know I'm not alone in that. How come that everybody skips that very instance? Is it ugly and boring? Or maybe it's as simple as it has a strange name that nobody knows exactly how to pronounce? Sometimes I suspect that is the real reason.

Now, as most of us I guess, I'm longing for the new five man instance coming in the next patch, Magister's Terrace. It's supposed to be outdoors and you'll be able to see the stars, Wowwiki tells us on the strategy page that is already there for us.

Oh, I wish I was there! No instance is as attractive as the one that is still virgin.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Owned in Arena

Oh, oh, what a noob I was yesterday when I was running around with a flag attached to my bottom, trying to catch a glimps of the opponent team.

Our little improvised 2x2 team had six losses in a row and the fastest match was over in like... 10 seconds. All because of me. The opponents probably just couldn't believe their eyes. What kind of a strange little mage was that, that was merrily strolling around, and then stopped up, just stood there like a statue? What was she actually doing? It was supposed to be a match, not an execution. Why didn't she show any resistance at all?

They couldn't know that they had been lucky enough to encounter the worst PvP player on the whole Stormrage server. Being teamed up with an excellent Arena veteran of a rogue wasn't enough to save it. It takes two for a tango, as the saying is.

What was the problem? Well, first of all I think it was my lack of mobility. To see the targets quickly, to catch them, get myself into spellcasting distance and actually DO something. There's no time for standing and contemplating - nobody else does it. One thought too many - and you're owned - believe me.

Then I must admit that I had a hard time to find my way at all in there. "Take left and run up the ramp to the bridge", my partner suggested when one of the matches was about to begin. Still somehow I managed to miss the ramp, run in way too far and got completely lost.

Mind you also, neither my gear, nor my spec is suited for Arena games. Larísa was built for raiding purposes, without any compromises. And the same thing counts for my spells and keybindings. I do have for instance Dragons Breath on hot key, but it's not one of the weapons I use daily. When I throw it I have to think first, it doesn't come naturally.

Did I improve? Well, maybe. A little, if you put it nicely. I got a feeling of what Arena matches are all about. I had another macro on my repertoire, a combination of frost-nova and blink, that isn't bad to let off a second faster than before. In one of the games I actually managed to first counterspell and then sheep an opponent - and keep him sheeped, which helped my teammate to take down another player. Yay!

Above all I got the insight that I need to practice, practice, practice. And I actually don't believe that I need to run real Arena games to do that. I should start from the very beginning, by duelling. So from now on I'll stop doing as I've used to do by instinct, clicking "decline" whenever someone challenges me. I'll grab the opportunity to duel whenever I can if I'm not occupied doing other things.

Of course I'll be humiliated, but who cares? The main thing is that I'll learn, I'll improve little by little and slowly crawl up from bottom of the trashbin of lousy PvP-players. My intention is not to climb the ranking lists or to be able to say that I've won so and so many matches. It's not to enhance my PvP statistics in Armory (right now it looks like if I haven't a single hk, which is wrong, I've actually killed 687 players, but there seems to be a minimum level to be shown).

No, If I'll improve in PvP its only because I want to become better in PvE. I want to know my own class better as well as understanding other classes. And above all - I want to become a bit quicker in my feet, more movable. Right now I often find myself just standing there, like tired and heavy, just throwing my fireballs over and over again from the far distance. Many times that works very well - but not always. Some fights demand that you're more like a jumping frog - something that seems to come natural for PvP players.

Playing PvP is good for you, no doubt, but is it fun? Well, that adrenaline rush that my partner enthusiastically talked about I didn't feel at all. Of course I needed to be focused and present, but it wasn't close to the feeling when you take the last dps out of your mana pool, when the raid boss got a few percent hp left and the major part of the raid is dead. When you're on the verge between success and despair after a long evening of hard work, and when one single crit in the right moment can be crucial. That is what I mean by a kick!

But what do I know, maybe a horde rouge got the adrenaline rush of his life yesterday by taking down Larísa. Good for him. See it as an easter gift from Larísa.

PS I now noticed that Arcane Brilliance has published a lovely article: 10 things every Mage should know before going into the Arena. If you read it it was only expected that I would die. If you don't have a healer in your party, you're always the first target. The opponent will kill you before you can say Iceblock, the writer says. So true. But you get quite a few good suggestions in the article and I'll try to learn from them. Who knows, next time I may survive a whole minute!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The daily bad conscience

"You may only complete nine more daily quests today".

Whenever I get that message it feels like a reprimand. It's like I'm ignoring a task that I really should perform. Why settle with one or two quests, when you could do all of them and get gold and fame at the same time?

"Well? the voice of the better me says, sounding as strict in the voice as Aunt Maiden.

"What is your excuse today not to go to Blades Edge, bombing and catching demons? Hmmm... is it the lazybones inside of you that has taken over completely? Eh? Are you running around entertaining yourself wiping in instances when you should be working? You won't get much gold in your pocket that way. This behaviour is not to be tolerated."

Stammering I try to explain and defend myself, but I honestly haven't got a strong case, except for that my bombing technique is terrible, no matter if it comes to eggs or canons. (That I only own a slow normal flying mount is the weak excuse). The effect of this is that I'm shot down over and over again, which will take loads of my playing time and in worst case will result in death and heavy repair bills as the sad consequence. There's no good business in it.

On the other hand: practice makes you better. That is one of the very ideas about doing daily quests at all, rather than clearing Netherstorm and SMV from the quests that I've still got there. There's no need for research, no looking for mobs or quest items. You can get it done quickly and get gold in a decent pace. In theory it's a reliable and effective source of income.

But I feel some kind of resistance, as said before. So most of the time I just do the most simple quests. I play on the colour machine, I snare the rays, pick the berries and cook the soup. If I'm about to run an instance I naturally check out which one is the daily heroic and normal, even if that is not the only thing that decides what instance I'll chose. But if I can get a grab of gold and a couple of extra badges, I won't refuse it.

What makes me a bit worried now are all those new daily quests that will come with the next patch. If I get a bad conscience about not doing the ten quests available for me today, how won't I feel when there are 25 quests that you can do provided that you're hard working?

Logically I realize there'll hardly be more than an handful of fanatics (there will always be that kind of people) that will complete every single quest every day. You should rather see it as a menu to pick your choices from - a help to vary your playing - than as a bunch of tasks that all have to be done. But still. I'll always feel a bit bad every time I get that message, that I "only" can complete another 24 quests this day.

But then I shrug, forget about it and go back to earn money the way I prefer at the moment. After all, if other players put more of their gaming time into doing the dailys, they couldn't possibly have the time to grind elements or farm herbs the same way as they did before. That means less competition, faster farming and more gold per played hour for Larísa. So in one way maybe everybody can benefit from the daily quests - no matter if we do them or not.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A small step for mankind - a giant leap for Larísa

Actually I'm no friend of blogs whose mission mostly seems to be to show off different kinds of trophy pictures. I's about as interesting as it is to watch huge elk antlers in the hallway of hunters, or for that reason old cups from the local football tournament from 1978. Yawn.

But at this moment I don't care about those principles, after enjoying on of my best gaming experiences ever. I just can't refrain from putting up a picture of a triumphant Larísa in front of Gruul, that went down on the very first try. It's just a pity she looks so sulky, she obviously never heard that the photographer said "cheese".

For a very very long time I've cherished the dream to be able to try 25 man raiding, eventually the dream seemed to fade out in the far distance, and I kept wondering if I would ever be able to to this on this side of the expansion. But then my path took a new direction, and yesterday night the time had come. Not only did we take both of the bosses in Gruul's lair without any major trouble, once we had figured out the hard pull at HKM. I was standing on my feet the whole way! I didn't die once. No wonder I was turned into a happy, jumping little frog, once it was over.
And while we were still going, of course we couldn't resist the impulse to go and have a first look at SSC. Suddenly I was standing there, looking Hydross the Unstable straight into his eyes. It was absolutely surrealistic. We only did one try, since ten minutes remained of the advertised raiding time. He went down to 90 percent... a result I'm pretty convinced that we'll beat the next time.

It was a small step for humanity that we took this night. But oh, what a giant leap it was for Larísa.

I'm convinced that may wipe nights are awaiting us. And I'm looking forward to it! Because I'm on my way, I'm going somewhere. I've finally found the place where I belong.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thoughts about grinding

Why on earth am I doing this? Isn't it a sign of mental illness? To hour after hour walk around in a circle, killing the same mobs over and over again with the same spell until I resemble a brain-dead bot? Is this really what I pay thousands of Swedish crowns for every year? Is this entertaining?

These kind of questions tend to come up towards the end of a major grinding session. Often they end up in an inner monologe like this:

"You grind because you want to make it possible to later do what you love most of all in the game - doing raids and instances. To do that doesn't only cost real money fees to Blizzard, the grim reality is that you also have to invest your gaming time into it. No grinding - no gold, buff food, gear and other stuff that is necessary in order to see new content. Everyone has to grind, it's a part of the game, unless you're that kind of player that take advantage of others, and you're not. You have to keep improving your gear through enchants, gems or crafted set, do your homework just like everyone else. And if you'll just try to have fun every single second by constantly running instances and raid you'll end up bankrupt. So shut up and keep grinding, soon enough you'll be partying again. Try to think about how much better you'll be once you get the x-gear, x-enchant, x-brodery!"

On other occasions I try to see the point of the grinding as it is, I put on a pair of glasses making me see it through a positive, pink glimmering filter. From that perspective the grinding isn't necessary boring just because it's repetitive. On the contrary - its's a kind of meditation - a chance of mental recovery. Throw, throw, loot. Throw, throw, loot. Throw, throw, loot, drink. Run to the next spot. Throw, throw, loot. The brain is drained from thoughts and everyday life worries, the game turns into a kind of "take a breath-let out the breath-focus on the breathing"-exercise.

I can also do the opposite, becoming very alert and present, putting all my attention to what I'm doing, really trying to make the very best out of every single second. The grinding is turned into a mage training camp, where I'm trimming myself, trying out new strategies, killing the mobs faster, with elegance or in a different way.

Another dimension that can transform the most hopeless grinding mission into a joyful party is the social one. Sometimes you come along a player at the same spot, who rather than competing for the mobs joins you, and you share the loot equally. Suddenly the mob killing has turned into an exercise of cooperation and maybe you'll even chat a little between the pulls.

But the best vaccine for grinding fever is to make sure you've got nice company in your headset, someone to rant with, or at least listen to, no matter if it's instance running or raiding going on. As long as there's someone there, it doesn't really matter what I'm doing at the moment, time flies and before I know I'll have all the primals I needed without knowing how it happened.

The need for grinding is periodical. For me I had a whim of grinding last autumn, when I got the spellstrike set, that I also had to make a brodery on the pants. I gave it to myself as a gift when I turned 40 in rl. Unfortunately (?) just a couple of weeks passed before the T4 head dropped, with an irresistible set bonus, and the spellstrike head was put into the bank vault, very little used if you compare it to the work I had put into it. Things happen. Odd enough I never felt robbed of all those hours I had put into that cap, the very feeling of achieving my goal had been a reward in itself.

Ever since that the grinding has been on a minimum level, I only do it to enchant gear uppgrades and to get buff food. But now I've got the feeling that I'm about to start grinding again. It's about time that I raise my butt and get together my Fel Armaments in order to get exalted with Aldor. A better shoulder enchantment is one of those things that has been too long on the "to do-list".

Another huge grinding project I'm considering is to start out the hunt for the new alchemist stone, coming with the 2.4 patch. The old stone was expensive, too much grinding if you compare it to the benefits from the trinket. Now the stone has got a bonus damage of 63 and suddenly it's becoming seriously interesting. But it will mean A LOT of primals. At a closer look 39, of which 13 will be fires, not a favourite one to grind for a fire mage.

Probably it would be wiser to grind something else, that is easier for me, and to sell it at AH and bye fire for the money I get. But there will be some kind of grinding, that is for sure.

First of all I think I'll put my teeth into the Naga colony in Zangarmarsh. If I just do the quest Now that we're still friends... enough times to be revered with Sporeggar, a transmute recepie earth-primal water is awaiting. That is a transmute that should be able to give me a steady income, in parity with any kind of daily quest. Gold that I can transform into Aldor reputation.
I'll just have to make up my mind and start the job, dedicated to reach the goal another time.

There's no bad weather, just bad clothes as we say in Sweden. To grind isn't just necessary, but also fun and meaningful. It's just a matter of your mindset.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Alliance + Horde = true?

You that are following the adventures of Larísa know by now that I am not and will hardly ever become a dedicated PvP player. It's probably this fact - in combination with me being kind and goodhearted, maybe even wimpy - that makes me never being able to engage into the so called conflict between Alliance and Horde. There are a lot of things in the game that I can identify with when I'm in the right mood. Larísa is more to me than just a couple of pixels, I enjoy her company a lot and I put my heart into her destiny in quite a childish way. But this hate-the-horde-thing that some alliance players devote their selves to is beyond my understanding.

To me a horde character is just a guy that looks a bit different to the toons that Larísa normally is playing with. A bit uglier or cooler, that is a matter of taste. Above all: behind every figure there's a player, a person that unfortunately I can't connect with, with less than being smart and stubborn to get over the obstacles for communication that Blizzard has put between us.

But of course you can do it if you just try hard enough. /hug has described that in a nice blog post, that inspired me to the drivel of today. I'll never forget how I myself once tried to get over the language barrier in Un'goro Crater, where I was questing around at the time being. I had got stuck on a quest, requiring me to take down some flying dinosaurs, being read-orange to me and a little to big a challenge to me. Then I ran into a troll rogue, a couple of levels above me, in the middle of some skin grinding. I helped him to kill some attacking mob and after that something that looked like a little dance followed, where we took turns performing expressions of politeness and friendship, everything we could to make contact. One way or another an idea flew into my mind, that he might help me with the dinos. Perhaps there was a way to make him understand... I ran around making all sorts of gestures, moving restlessly in different directions, until I suddenly vanished without a trace. In stead I got a whisper from an unknown low level gnome far away in Ironforge. Yes, it was my new horde friend that said that I seemed to be in need of some help and asked me how he could be to my service. I explained, he logged back to the troll and in a minute I had completed the quest and got myself a new friend as well.

As a matter of fact, we kept in contact for a long while, trying to make efforts to create characters on each of our sides, hoping that we one day would be able to play together. But neither of us had the patience to start all over again on the other side, both of us appreciated our mains and present guild too much to be willing to give it up. My little bloodelf never levelled above ten and his warlock human got stock on level 40. We were doomed to live on different sides of the game.

That was annoying at the time, it still is, and it makes me a bit sad when I think about it. During the years there must be more players than me who like Romeo and Juliet have turned up on different sides, when they like each other and would prefer playing together. Just think about it, shouldn't it be possible to - maybe at a skyrocketing price - be possible to change side of the char you have put endlessly much of effort into levelling up? Or couldn't they let us create mixed parties and guilds, with both hordes and alliances? If you worry about the lore it should be possible to invent some kind of peace keeping forces just like FN? Dreams, dreams... But I suspect that the problem is at another level - it's about the logic of the game - probably it just isn't doable without a huge effort from Blizzard. So for the time being we'll just have to accept the fact - there is no Utopia, where everybody loves each other - not in RL, nor in Azeroth.

And who knows, maybe I'll discover the charm of PvP one day. If I'll just run a sufficient amount of BGs, being assaulted by evil sneaking rogues or relentlessly ganked whenever I ress and the graveyard - I guess at last the moment will come when even I get sick of being kind and cute, and bloodthirstily starts mangling down orcs and undead with a wicked smile on my face. But that day is still pretty far away.

Once a carebear - always a carebear.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Visiting Dr Boom

You learn as long as you live. That was my conclusion after a quick visit to Dr Boom i Netherstorm yesterday.

Not that I hadn't heard of him before - that sort of permanent target where mathematically gifted players, for whom theorycrafting is more of a passion than a tool, can optimize their talents and spell rotations. But to hear of a phenomenon is one thing, to deal with it is another.

It was the veteran mage in my new guild that without any further discussion brought the new recruit to make a basic check of her dps. Equipped with Recap, a sort of advanced damage meter, he positioned himself, taking notes, while I obayed and emptied my mana pools in a few different ways: with molten armor, with mage armor, with and without scorching up (which I usually do at bosses in order to make them take more vulnerable and take damage from fire.)

The result made me raise my eyebrows - it turned out that I shouldn't consistently be using molten armor, that I had considered being standard for a fire mage. Using mage armor I could poor out considerably more damage from my mana pool. And that scorching I could probably do a little less of, it didn't seem to help me make more damage, there were signs that the effect was the opposite.

All that it took to throw over all my old theories was a simple little test. Or to put it right: someone elses theories, since I not knowing exactly how I've obtained my habits, strongly suspect that they are the result of something I've read somewhere.

And what are the conclusions of this? First of all, you shouldn't believe everything you read. What is true for someone else isn't necessary the right way to go for you, there will always be things that differ - gear, latency and other circumstances.

Secondly: seeing Dr Boom really isn't such a big thing. He's really worth visiting, not only for those experts in theorycrafting, but for ordinary average players like me. Why take the risk to refrain from it, when you by testing actually can find a simple action to take in order to raise your dps by lets say 10 percent? No, Recap is now high up on my priority list of addons to download and start using.

See you soon again, Dr Boom!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Countdown

We're living in the time of expectations. Well, not literary, I'm passed the stadium of childbirths in my life. But it is a little like being pregnant, this waiting for the Wrath of the Lich King to come. Regarding giving birth in real life, timing is a bit more predictable, at least if you've got some basic knowledge about your body functions. Nine months, plus or minus a couple of weeks.

Of course you can be caught off guard - oops, already! Or you may experience that endless waiting when you're overdue - when is the lump actually going to arrive? But after all, the waiting will never be very long.

To guess when WotLK will drop is much harder and the speculations are wild. Most people seem to think right before or right after the summer. Now the 2.4 patch will arrive soon and that will give the top ranked guilds something to deal with for a while, with a challenging 25 man raid instance, at the same time as we casual players can comfort ourselves with badges shopping, a new five man instance and a huge amount of new daily quests. But for how long can the WoW community enjoy this piece of candy? When will we once again start wandering around like impatient tigers, crying for more? Can Blizzard let us wait for the whole summer, without risking that people will close their accounts?

The most fanatic players probably plan to spend one or two weeks of the vacation, playing from early morning to late night, levelling up from 70 to 80 in an instant. The question is only when to book those weeks.

So far I've met a mixed attitude towards the expansion from other players. Many, probably a majority, is looking forward to it, quite sick and tired of running the five man instances in Outlands over and over again, bored by levelling new alts since they've got stuck with their mains, just because there's nothing else to do. These are players that don't want to or haven't got the possibility to take part of 25 man raiding, and that now are reduced to pvp:ing or to see the same content over and over again, while their stock of badges keep growing.

Other players are starting to feel the bustle. Time is running out and if you'll be able to see a decent amount of the raid instances before the expansion hits and clears them for good, you have to push right now, make your guild work forward in a focused manner, and above all not get stuck in a perpetual gear-up-in-Karazhan-swamp. If you're already stuck in that swamp - well, then it's probably about time that you start looking for another guild that is beyond that stadium. If not you'll never see anything else.

Just because Blizzard now will take away attunements it doesn't mean automatically that you can rush into a 25 man instance right away. Still there are huge demands on the ability to lead an organize, on preparations, skill and gear.

When it comes to me there's no hurry to give out the expansion. I'm hoping to do much more in the current game than I've done so far with Larísa. It would be fun to run through Karazhan at a faster pace, in one night instead of two. Zul Aman is fun and a challenge, I'd love to take down a few more bosses than the first one, preferably on timer, and I also cherish a dream to try out 25 man raiding. Of course their will be new instances in the expansion, but it will take quite a while before I'll be able to take part of it (when it comes to me I've got no possibility to play 24/7 for a week and level up to 80, it will take me longer than that). That's why I want to see as much as possible of everything that is within my reach for now being.

Another thing is that Larísa is such a poor girl, having about 100 g in the bank and no epic mount, and I can't help worrying a bit about this. Reasonably there will be some kind of advantage to have that riding skill in the expansion. Can I really take the risk not having it?
And if I'll ever get all that money, while I keep playing instances, I definitely need more time.

No, I don't feel any impatience at all, the expansion is rather a little threat in my mind. I'm not thinking about the fact that the epics I've worked so hard for in one moment will be replaced by green quest rewards. That is the way this game works and I can give with it - the driving force for me in the game isn't the urge to show off with awesome gear, but to experience things, collecting memories.

The threat is rather that the expansion will put an end to instance playing and raiding for a while and that game friends with more playing time to spend soon will rush away in a race towards end game at the next level, leaving me alone far behind.

So while others impatiently are waiting for the countdown and a trustworthy official release date, I'm happy for everyday that passes without its announcement. At the same time I'm of course looking forward to seeing all those new areas, instances, professions, classes and everything else that will be offered to us. I'll certainly enjoy throwing myself into the brand new world, just as much as anyone else, the same way as I enjoyed entering the portal of Outlands, greedily slurping down all the new impressions. The only thing is that there's no hurry.

I say the same as the title of a movie from when I grew up: Heaven can wait.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Breaking up

Actually the whole process was a bit too easy and fast. According to the information from Blizzard it could take as much as five days for my character to change server, time when she wouldn't be playable, but be in a sort of quarantine, sort of floating about in limbo, without contact with anyone. But actually it took less than an hour. A few key strokes, lots of "I agrees", leave your credit card number (20 Euro transfer fee) and suddenly larisa had taken her belongings and moved from her childhood server Kul Tiras to the unknown territory Stormrage. Time had come to head out for new adventures in the big world waiting out there.

"Too fast?" some of you may ask. Isn't it a good thing if Blizzard is having a well functioning service? And I could agree on that. But the time for adjusting was so short that it somehow was frightening. I had almost needed those five days in order to get used to the thought that Larisa was on her way. Away from all the friends she had got to know on the server, away from the well known guild tags, away from the security of the guild, out into the unknown. Instead this was a piece of cake, no more complicated than ordering any kind of goods on the net.

Suddenly Larisa was appearing again, ready for her new home world. But first of all there was a request to change her name. Obviously there was a little horde creep at Stormrage who had picked up MY name and if I wanted to I now had the opportunity to start all over again, to leave my old identity behind me. But of course I hold on to Larisa - as a measure of emergency I just changed the spot over the "I" into an accent (Larísa). To have a completely different name was as out of the question as it would be to abandon my pink pigtails. Larisa is Larisa.

Then I did my entrance on Stormrage, took a deep breath and joined my new guild.

This will be a new beginning in the game, that hopefully will mean more of raiding and instance playing than I've been able to get lately. If you're like me has caught the raiding flu you can't keep it back in the long run, and it isn't easily cured. It isn't enough that the guild is social and cosy in all sorts of way, without a certain amount of challenges at least I'm climbing the walls.

Will the transfer be a hit or will it turn out to be a wrong decision that I'll regret? That is yet to see. Thankfully Blizzard has nowadays lowered the cooldown on character moves. In only a month, when my trial membership runs out, I'm free to move back to Kul Tiras. All it takes is another bribe of 20 Euro. So I'm certainly not stuck here, if it shows that me and my new guild just won't connect. Arisal is for now still back at Kul Tiras, as a connection to all the friends I'll miss there. That feels good.

To me the WoW playing has turned into a sort of walk, a twisting path, which sometimes joins other paths. For a while I wandered together with my former guild, until I suddenly noticed that my path was going away in another direction. In that kind of situation I think it's stupid to struggle against it. I keep following the road wherever it takes me, and who knows, one day our paths may cross again and I'll meet my old guild mates where I least had thought of it.
Sunday I'll play Larisa, or I should rather say Larísa, in her new environment. I'm longing for it already.

I can't refrain myself from quoting a verse from the Swedish poet Karin Boye, that I keep coming back to:

"Strike camp, strike camp! The new day shows its light. Our great adventure has no end in sight."

So true.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A successful defeat

It was Aeonus that brought us down. A time stop in the wrong moment and suddenly the tank went down. At least that's what I think happened - suddenly Omen was flashing: aggro aggro aggro and the giant dragon was rushing towards me. In that situation there are no six seconds to go invisible. I was dead faster than a pig blinks, as its said in the Swedish children book Emil in Lönneberga, I could see that the tank was in the graveyard too, and soon enough the rest of the party, except for our healing paladin, who still was in the instance. A situation that made it impossible for anyone else to come back into the instance and take down that reptile once for all.

You could think that the ending of this Black Morass heroic run, which so far had offered me anything I can ask for from a playing night, was a bit disappointing.

The party was a good mixture - warrior, warlock, rogue, paladin and my mage - only people that I really like to play with, each one with a well deserved spot on my friendlist.

The forming of the party had been instant. Of course I had snared the tank and the healer in advance, but the dpsers turned up like sent from heaven, suddenly available although they're usually occupied doing other things. Now we came together from three different guilds. Sometimes you're just lucky.

Then I had only to throw myself on the next flight to Tanaris. It was all so quick and efficient. No "I'll just..."-runs to AH, repairing, letting out the dog, getting a snack or other time consuming activities. Soon enough we could sum, buff up and start cleaning the trash.

No explanations were necessary, everybody knew what to expect: half an hour of focusing. That's what I love about BM: the intensity, the speed. There's no room for slacking or hesitating, brb is out of the question. It's like one single wonderful, prolonged boss fight, except for the allowed mana pauses after the bosses.

Once upon a time I feared this instance, probably after my attunement run in a pug group, when I was put on add service, and didn't have a clue of how to do it. In short it was hellish, a thankless slavery from the beginning to the end: just standing there alone in behind, fighting wave after wave of small dragons, even after the rest of the portal was done. While the others had a decent mana pause, I was fighting alone, nervously watching the shield. That was how things were that time, and I developed a phobia and avoided BM ever since, if it wasn't absolutely necessary. Nowadays I appreciate BM, especially in a company like the one I had the other night.

Right after we had started the first portal I went into that wonderful, trancelike stadium, the very same that has made me so crazy about raiding and instance playing. There's that total concentration and focusing on the task, the adrenaline rush coming, while I in an other level is completely relaxed, feeling an ice cold tranquillity. The fingers instinctively finding the right key strokes, the eye view passing over different kinds of meters. The cooperation of the group, one word or another on ts, just as much as you need for communicating, but never as much as it's disturbing. There's no place for the thoughts to flap away somewhere else, here and now it what it's all about. In short it's the WoW nirvana. You who have been there will know what I mean. In that happy state we sort of floated through the instance, portal after portal, ever so easily. Until it all suddenly stopped at Aeonus.

Normally I could have become a bit annoyed after missing the end boss, the uttermost jewel of an instance run. But not this night, it was a side issue that just ran off me. It was a mere accident that we wiped, not lack of commitment, bad cooperation, incompetence or some kind of technical mishaps like lag or dc. And what did we miss? One badge, a few points of reputation and a loot that probably just would have been sharded anyway. There was no reason to turn off the pc in anger, sulking under a blanket. We had got some entertainment together and I had got my nirvana dose.

My more competitive pala friend took the loss harder and admitted how he before going to sleep was sulking in his loneliness, wondering what he could have done differently. Should he had bubbled the tank, letting number two on the aggro list (me) die? Or maybe he could have made a taunt, died and used soulstone?

And when you think about it it's a honourable attitude. To never settle for the next best, to always try to reach a bit higher, to always learn from experiences and then, at the next time, pull yourself to the next level. Out of the sulkiness comes dedication and longing for revenge, an attitude that is needed if you want to progress in the game.

To me the defeat in Black Morass was a success. I enjoyed every single second. And when I meet him next he'll go down. Easily.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

First aid

I'll stick to the road that I entered in the blog the other day, pondering about professions. There are some professions that you don't have to think twice about. It's just to make your decision and level it up.

It there's something in the game that I'm happy about it is that I pretty early decided to level first aid. For a levelling mage the downtimes are quite frustrating. Yes, the first 40 levels or so I was happy whatever I did in the game. Sitting drinking and eating, flying on a bird watching the view was almost as exciting as to bring down mobs. I was so fascinated by the new world I had discovered. As time went by a little of the brilliance faded away when it came to bred nibbling and water slurping. When I noticed how much the bandages helped me - not the least in combination with evocation - how they could spare me at least some of the pauses - I was committed to keep levelling it up.

It wasn't hard really, basically you just keep doing new bandages as your cloth stor is growing. I remember a couple of stops on my way. The first one was to get my hands on the Expert book. You could think it wouldn't be that hard, after all it's sold by a vendor. The only thing is that this vendor is a bit hard to find, he's hiding in the most dark and shady corner of Stromgarde in Arathi Highlands. It took me a couple of turns of searching in there before I finally caught him, and I remember that I bought a couple of books extra and sent to the guild bank character just to save others the same trouble.

The next stop was the notorius first aid quest Triage. I guess we are a few players who got painful memories from standing fighting at the practice of Doctor Gustaf Van Howzen in Theramore. You're supposed to save 15 dying patients from dying. Of course I obeyed to the suggestions from Thottbot and put the bandage on a hot key, standing in the middle of the room, clicking "vi" in order to see the health bars of the patients, trying to move as little as possible while I was shifting targets. But did it help? The patients were in pain and died like rats. Time after time.

I wasn't alone in there, since I earlier had ran into a little dwarf who had nothing better to do but to watch my struggle, full of compassion, but also with a huge grin on his lips. Sometimes he was lazily laying on the bed, sometimes he was jumping around, trying to help me by positioning himself by the patient who was most urgent to lay hands on.

It wasn't until he had given up about me, convinced that I was judged to be stuck on silk bandages forever, that I suddenly succeeded. On the seventh try or so. Triumphant, with my whole bag full of unused surplus bandages I could learn my new skilled. It was well deserved.

A couple of nights later I was back with Doctor Gustaf, but now the roles were changed. A guildie was about to learn the noble art of bandaging, and now I was the teacher. "The bandage on hot key, make sure you see the healthbar, stand there, do that and that" I instructed him, as if I had never done anything else in my life. I lay down on one of the beds, with a malicious smile on my lips, watching how my guild mate started to sweat. And fail. Over and over again.He, normally a much better player than myself, faster, better geared, more experienced in every aspect. Now he had to fight, well aware that noobie-Larisa already had done it.

I laughed silently until my stomach hurt, I knew exactly what he was going through and I was so happy to be on the other side myself. Finally, after the fifth or seventh try, he couldn't stand the pressure anymore; he broke up in anger and went to bed. The night after he came back and completed the quest - alone. I guess it's easier that way, without having an audience.

I still use first aid now and then when the healer has better things to do. Most of the times it's on myself, I feel a resistance when it comes to using it on others for some reason. Maybe because I feel like it's a way of trespassing the personal integrity. After all it will result in a cooldown, and it's a bit rude to give that to someone else without asking, he or she may have wanted to save the possibility to throw a bandage for later.

The only part of first aid that I've never bothered to use is the anti poison remedies. Being an alchemist I can make Purification potion, that is more useful. Even if it honestly has been long since I last made one of these. But except for that, there's no doubt about it. First aid is an excellent profession, well worth every single cloth you use for levelling it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Professional worries

How come that I'm doing what I'm doing as a living? Probably I had some kind of basic interest in it from the beginning, when I took out a direction of my life, but why am I still there? I think you should put that question to yourself once in a while, in real life as well as in Azeroth.

How easy isn't it to slip into a routine? You landed into something by hazard, and then you stay there, just because you're used to it, feel safe and comfortable or because you've invested so much time, energy, effort and money to build up your competence that you hesitate to just throw it away and start all over again.

I can't help admiring all those that coldly do like thet. They let go of professions that they've spent hours and hours to level up. I must admit that I haven't changed profession even once on Larisa. She's been herbalist and alchemist all the way. Settling for herb picking was the result of reading somewhere that you really should have a gathering profession in order to get money. And then I understood that alchemy would be a great thing to combine it with.

I've remained a drug dealer. I've never made any huge fortune from it, on the contrary. I was fast spoiled in being self sufficient on drugs, and I've stuck to that road. I use most of what I create myself, or I give it away to guildies that need it.

My own level of consumption makes more knowledgeable raiding friends to shook their heads at my thoughtless extravagance. Two Flask of Pure Death per raiding night in Kara is standard. What a waste! OK, if you're learning a new boss fight, expecting a wiping night, then it's an obvious choice, but to empty precious flasks before ganking Attuman... That is recklessness, a bad habit, that I think only players that mix their own drugs could think about growing.

If I had known what I know today, I would have done like any sensible mage, changing for tailoring some time after 60, starting collecting mats for the Spellfire and Spellstrike sets. Possibly together with enchanting, in order not to see so much wasted loot. You know how it always ends: another useless piece of plate dropping or a strange thing for that shaman you've never got in your party. The question is hanging in the air: any enchanter? And then the following silence.

But at that time, when it really would have been a jackpot to sew myself a armour for my mage, I didn't have a clue about it. And when the insight finally dawned upon me, I had already specialized as elixir master and made almost every flask discovery there is in the game, gearing up in other ways, by drops and badges.

Today the step to become a dressed up mage wouldn't be so dramatically huge, not so big that it motivates me to invest loads of gold and grinding sessions. On the other hand, I keep thinking about it: can it actually ever become "too late"? Lifelong education is a concept that is applicable also in WoW. It may not be profitable right now, but there will be an expansion, and it would be strange if it didn't offer any new patterns?

On the other hand, how would it be to always have to rely on greedy alchemists, not being able to pick whatever you need for yourself for the raiding tonight? It IS nice to be independent.

In the end I think the question about chosing profession mostly is about in what way you prefer spending your farming time. It's just different sides of the same equation. If I don't pick the flowers and make the elixirs myself I'll have to buy them at AH. That means that I'll have to gather gold one way or another, most simply by grinding primals. What do I enjoy most - to slowly cover zone after zone, looking for flowers for the whole night (I don't have and probably never will have an epic flying mount) or to go around the mystical circular thing in Nagrand one time after another, picking primal shadows from the voids?

Only I can answer that question.

With the expansion another profession will arrive, making the choice even harder. To be able to improve your spells with inscriptions sounds very attractive. On the other hand, many others will think the same and the risk is that there will be an overflow and the inscription won't be profitable at all.

The choices are hard and there's no councellor around. Eventually I'll probably put my head into the sand like an ostrich, lazy and cowardly. You know what you have but not what you can get. Unless any kind coplayer will come around and give me a well deserved kick in my ass, the push to take the step.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nasty weather

It rained this weekend. In the real world as well as in the game. You can't help becoming a bit dejected at times like that.

I came to think about it when I read Haryman's comment on my blog post about geography: "If it would rain somewhere when I'm questing about, I'd change to a nicer place and come back when the ground has dried up".

That's a nice approach I think, even though I myself have never bothered to move over just in order to avoid bad weather. And in some situations it's kind of hard, like yesterday, when the rain was pooring down in DWP and reinforced the gray dusk. Huge heavy drops, almost like slush, found their way inside of my Aldor collar and made me shiver. Find another place for questing? It's hard in that situation. The only thing I could do was to try to keep the summoning procedure as short as possible and then flee in under the protecting roof of the castle.

Of course the weather influences the feeling and the mood of the game. From that point of view I can think that Outlands lacks a bit of charm. Certainly, the skies are astonishing beautiful in many spots, with the stars, planets and asteroids. But it's still more predictable and static.

After all - a little slush in your neck isn't so bad. Sooner or later the lovely, warming spring sun will arrive. And it will only be nicer if you still can remember that rainy cold night when you were shivering with cold.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Waiting for resurrection

Today I've got a confession to make. It happens that I get a bit lazy. That I'll be listening to that little snake whispering in my ear, and that I'll selfishly stay on the ground after a wipe in an instance. Actually good manners demand that you follow the healer running through the fogs, sparing the party a lot of waiting time by getting mana and health back quicker. But it happens that I innocently ask if it's alright that I'll stay dead. It's an insidious, sly question - of course I don't expect for a moment to get a straight and honest "no". (Well I did tell you I was making confessions today, didn't I?) While the poor paladin or priest will have to jog on his own I throw out a "brb" and go away, refilling the coffee cup, getting a banana to boost myself with some blood sugar, or saying a quick good night to the children.

Sometimes I've had good reasons for my staying behind, out of caring for the group rather than from being lazy. There are instances where I somehow mange to run in the wrong direction, even if I've got four party members, that really should be able to guide me right if I just simply put myself on "follow". As an example I was earlier hopeless when it came to swimming through the pipe in Zangarmarsh. I just saw a white blur, couldn't orient myself in the room, which resulted in that I somehow turned the other way, swimming up to the surface instead of entering the cave. Nowadays I think Blizzard has adjusted the pipe so that the swimming is easier, or maybe my swimming has improved. But earlier there were good reasons to res Larisa in the underwater instances, if you wanted to avoid a long waiting for her to find her way back.

Then there are moments when it seems cleaver to refrain from running, letting the healer deal with the resurrection, for instance when you've had a soul stone or with a shaman in the group. On those occasions it's always interesting to see how long your waiting will be, which order the Master of Life and Death will settle for. Not too seldom I'll have to wait for long, even to the last, for whatever reason. Maybe the size does matter? Pink pigtails or not, I'm not as easily found as a long and handsome human (racial discrimination!) Or is there a functioning system for bribing that hasn't caught my attention? Pay 1g and you'll be ressed first of all? Or maybe I'm just punished for bad behaviour?

Seriously I guess it's natural that the mage isn't the one you res first of all. Any sensible healer would obviously rather get up a partner, someone that can help them in ressing. So paladins, priests, shamans, no matter of spec are VIPs. But after that I would like to claim that the mages deserve to come a bit higher up in the res order than they generally do.

It's about time that we speak out, starting a resistance movement, fighting for Earlier Resurrection of Mages. I've already found an ally! The excellent blog colleague Resto4life recently wrote a memorable reflection on the res order. Without any hesitation she puts mages as number three, after other healers and druids (naturally, she's a druid herself). The reason is the mana consuming intelligence buffing.

I can only agree and say YES! Finally there's someone that has realized the extent of our suffering! To be honest, the mana cost has been lowered considerably lately, but it still IS time consuming. And except for that, we also have to selfbuff with some kind of armor, and maybe make another mana gem. Not to speak about the slow eating of blackened basilisk (tough meat, has to be chewed carefully). To res the mage last of everyone is to beg for a waiting time long enough to cook some more coffee. If you don't simply refrain from one dpser during the first pull after a wipe.

But if the mage should be prioritized, who should be ressed last? Of course the warrior tank!" Whatever you do, don't rez them first. If you do, they'll probably be dead again by the time you're done.", as Resto4life puts it. Its as true as it's said.

If they're dead you know where you have them, you don't risk them to rush over in a hurry, grabbing the next pull before you've even had mana enough for a buff. Let them lay where they are, poking their belly bottons. If they want to whine they can do it in party with a rogue, who also could be left for long. Sure, they need to apply poisons, but how long could that take?

Mages of all races and fractions, unite! The struggle for faster res has only started.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Musical inspiration

It happens that Larisa leaves Azeroth and goes out in the world as a normal human being, believe it or not. So the other night I had a night off from gaming and went to see the Mando Diao consert in Stockholm. It was a huge energy explosion, which made the floor swing, the blood boil and the brain disregard of all smart or confused ideas of grownups. The crowd was changed into one huge, swetting, exalted here and now, just as it always is in a successful concert.

But of course I can't let it stop there. Afterwards my thoughts start wandering, and I'm wondering what kind of activities in the game that this music would fit with. AoE is what first comes to my mind. Preferrably arcane explosion. Immediate, pulsating, intense damage - over and over again. It sucks mana - yes - but after all you should be exhausted and full of sweat after a rock concert, it's a part of the concept.

When it comes to may main spells, the slower, surging fire balls with up to 3 sec casting time, a bit slower music is suitable. But of course it should be heavy.

Now it's been a while since I last played with my own music in the headset. Most of the time a combination of TS and the game sounds is accompanying my game play. Of course I can get a bit sick and tired of the Blizzard music - but nowadays I've heard so much of it that I hardly hear it, it becomes like muzac in an elevator - a completely invisible sound curtain. But the sound effects actually give me some information that makes my playing easier. There are dialogues and sounds from spells, hits and other effects that adds to other sources of information such as scrolling combat text, chat windows and addon meters of different kinds - they tell me what happens in the game and gives a better game experience.

How much better I don't notice until I have to play in silence, which happens from time to time. My surrounding family doesn't always approve of seeing me in the middle of the living room, dressed in a headset and not set for participating in conversation with anyone else. If I keep the sound turned off and speak to them at the same time as I'm grinding mobs, they find it easier to put up with my playing. But I do feel a bit crippled, going around killing things, without hearing a thing.

As a matter of fact I didn't discover the game sounds until last autumn, after more than six months of playing. I had endured sound problems since I first started playing. Most of the time it just didn't work. Because of that it was natural for me to play my own music in the headset. It wasn't until I had to reinstall the whole game that it started to work, a happy surprise for me.

I can become a bit nostalgic thinking about the soundless era, when I didn't have any TS to listen to either. I was free to set music to the game after what feeling and mood I wanted to achieve. Especially I remember a run in Zul Farrak. I didn't have any idea of what to expect, I was just standing there at the summoning stone, preparing, sitting on my mount that was still brand new and fun, nonstop listening to the Clash, that was the perfect energizer. I was prepared to the teeth for the fight to come, full of expectations, focused, and concentrated. The energy building up - and so finally the clearance to go in and start KILLING. One -two-three-four...London calling to the faraway towns Now war is declared - and battle come down...

Isn't there a sort of musical touch in certain fights? When the fireballs rhythmically take off, disrupted by one or another scorch or counterspell. Sometimes the threat meter goes red and you have to intervene with a slower section. And then you can once again starting building up to the refrain and the ending crescendo, when you're nuking the boss into small pieces.

It's no wonder that you by using the right kind of music can improve your gaming experience, but in another way than by the sounds of killing blows and spells flowing through the air. Not to forget: long grinding sessions can become a bit more endurable, using the right kind of music in the headset, to help to keep up the energy and the focus.

So thank you Mando Diao for the inspiration! Unfortunately you can't come along into Karazhan next time I'm there, after all I need to be able to talk to my raid companions, and they'll find it hard to match your voices. But please, come along next time I'm going to Terokkar killing basilisks, or why not join me on a few rounds in the area for primal shadow grinding in Nagrand. Buffed with the music I'm convinced that Larisa will be able to endure a few more rounds than otherwise.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Geography

What zones in the game do I like most? And which ones will I rather pass if I can chose? I ask myself, now that I'm levelling an alt. Since you nowadays can level faster, it isn't required to quest your way through all the alliance available areas. I can afford to be a bit picky. And the question is how I'll land. If I make it easy for myself I'll let others make the decisions for me and follow for instance the levelling guides by Jame. Just go wherever he tells me to go. But if I leave efficiency behind and go for my gut feeling, what areas have I liked and how will I chose then?

Right now Arisal is just above 20, clearing most of what she can do in Redridge. That's a place that is all but mandatory, but that leaves me quite indifferent, if you compare it to what comes next: Duskwood. The eternal twilight there fascinated me the first timed I dared to enter it, and I'm still just as fond of it, with all those spiders, haunted houses, graveyards and all kinds of weird creatures. There's one big drawback: the terribly long way to wander to and through the main graveyard and Darkshire, where a bunch of quests are supposed to be delivered. Then it doesn't help that you sometimes can use Westfall as an extra fp. But apart from that - I'll never grow tired of Duskwood!

Soon I guess it's about time to take a trip to Wetlands. I'm looking forward to have a look at the tunnels once again - it's been long since the last time, but the end goal I'm not quite as enthusiastic about. Pretty dull open swamps, inherited by murlocs, crocodiles, dinosaurs and ooze, that don't really give me a kick, but on the contrary are rather saddening if it also happens to be raining.

After that comes Stranglethorn Vale, that will become some of an eternal project, where I can be kept busy for another 10-15 levels. It's hard to avoid it, even though I've actually met players who had taken it as a mission to prove that you can level up questing without ever putting your foot into STV. For my part I like the jungle environment pretty well, it's sort of boiling with animal and herbal life. What made me a bit fed up the last time I was here was the lack of fp in the northern part, which had the consequence that I had to put ridiculous amounts of time into simply wandering. Nowadays that is taken care of, something I'm very grateful of.

The nest step is obvious: Dustwallow Marsh is supposed to have got a great deal of new quests and of course I want to have a look at them, by the way I've never quested there very much, except for that swamp lady Tabetha, that you have to pay a visit to now and then, being a mage. Then I prefer desert, a real sand desert like Tanaris, not the redish sort like Redridge, Blasted Lands and Hellfire, that truthfully is a bit boring if you compare it to much else.

The zone that really made me on fire when I last levelled was the Un'Goro crater. The first meeting with all those mysterious things - crystals and seeds that I didn't know the use of - all the intense vegetation, the abounding life - and the living flowers, strolling around in the middle of everything made me exalted.

I was so happy about the area I had "discovered" that I more or less forced a guidlie that also was levelling up to come and join me: "Oh you really have to come here right away, its so cool!" it sort of bubbled out of me. And he was as happy as I was - even though we quite instantly were killed by some of the elites wandering around making life hard for unsuspicious newbies. We happily started to ride around, enjoying the process of discovering the whole crater right away, one dinosaur model after each other. I don't know why I became so enthusiastic. Maybe it was the limitations of the room - it's quite easy to orient yourself in there. Maybe it was the fact that I've seen the model of the crater in reality, the Ngorongorocrater in Tanzania, that misses jungle and dinosaurs, but like the game crater has an abandoning wildlife. Of course it brought up a lot of memories.

I've also always had a weak spot for winter landscapes. Maybe it's because of my origin, the first struggling steps as a newborn gnome, when I was amazed that I actually was doing real footprints in the snow. I'm looking forward to once again rush through Winterspring on my mount, even though I'll probably at that time impatiently be waiting to set out for Outlands. Eastern Plaguelands doesn't appeal to me at all, except for a questchain that I'd really like to do over again. The surroundings in themselves are gloomy, full of red fog, boring, no loss if I manage to skip it.

What about Outlands, what places are attracting me there? Basically it's a matter of mood. There are days when the yelling bright meadows of Nagrand seem as artificial and empty as the eyes of a Barbie doll and you'd prefer to hide in the darkness of Shadowmoon Valley. At other times Nagrand is perfect, like a small vitamin pill, full of colour and sunlight. Terokkar leaves me a bit indifferent and the same goes with Blades Edge, another gloomy redish area. Netherstorm on the other hand I'll never grow tired of, thanks to the nice SF feeling and the biospheres with it's wildlife that makes me think of my beloved crater. And as an extra bonus there are a bunch of nice instances, where you after each wipe instantly wake up, being able to repair on the spot without long transportation. That's a luxury that affects my attitude towards the whole zone.

Then there are a couple of places that I honestly don't know so much about. Being gnome and alliance I've never had any reason to make myself at home at big parts of Kalimdor. Teldrassil, Ashenvale and Darkshore I don't know much about. Stonetalon Mountains, Desolace and Thousand Needles I've visited and quested a bit in, but I can't say I feel at home there. Silithus I just sniffed at, being in a hurry to proceed to Outlands.

I suddenly realize that having so much left in the game to see is a luxury. I think I should leave my prejudices behind, put on my explorer glasses again and discover the world all over again. Maybe I'll find new favourite areas where I least expected it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Feedback to the readers

I've got a few comments to my blog. Wohoo!

After all feedback is one of our essential human needs. You may call yourself a lonely wolf and self sufficient, but in the long run you'll go crazy if you never ever hear anything but your own voice, sort of hovering around in a bubble of your own.

I come to think of my friend and raid leader who leads the raids so well that sometimes everybody goes silent, in a trancelike state of mind, only silently doing their job. A lovely state for everyone, except for the raid leader, who eventually gets a bit frustrated out of the lack of feedback and communication. "I'm only hearing my won voice, is there something wrong with teamspeak", he asks, sounding worried, and we have to reassure him, telling him that we're actually there. He's not alone in his bubble, we share it.

This may not be any Top Blog with thousands of readers all over the world, where advertisers are competing about the best spots. This is the small world of Larisa, with four or five, at the most ten visitors a day (the record is 19, when our guild split, something that makes it quite obvious that it's mostly guild friends that read it). But you who actually read it care, and I'm delighted and surprised to see that from time to time I get comments, even on old posts that are only viewable by looking in the archives. You have no idea how much it means, you are the ones that inspire me to keep on writing.

The interface of this blog tool is far from perfect, and even though I in theory can change the code in whatever way I want, it's more than I can manage. I wish all of your comments were viewable by default, but the aren't. And there's no easy way to give comments to the comments ore to let the one that has given a comment know that I have written an answer. That's why I've decided to let the blog post of to day be about giving feed back to a few of you - encouraging you to keep on writing.

First of all: thanks Hardyman, Nigina, Flawless, Spoten and Emilie for all kind words!
And now a few comments to the comments:

Nigina, who wrote about The art of going to bed, that the hardest thing is to stop chatting. You're so right. All of those errands that you're up to, all those "must do"-things, aren't they mostly an excuse not to stop chatting? Fascinating enough those nightly conversations are going back and forward. Often it's conversations pizza level, but sometimes it takes a completely new direction and becomes very personal. Preferrably at two o clock in the night for some reason.

Consentire about Mage for good and bad, I hope there's no doubt that I really like the mage class - I do - in spite of the flaws. Right now I'm going fire, and I'm happy about that, but If I'd ever get the opportunity to pick up a bit better gear - a couple of T5 pieces, I've planned to go back to arcane. (I see no reason to question the common advice given in the Elitistjerks forum.)

Kazzandra, about To measure yourself, I'm impressed by your Commander titel as well as by your tiger. The sad thing is that there probably are very few players that actually know enough to appreciate what you've achieved. Being a PvE nerd, I'm completely ignorant about the title system. If someone is running around being a Sergant, Pivate, Knight or whatever it is, it doesn't tell me anything, except for that that person probably has played a bit of PvP. On the other hand if I inspect someone and see an interesting drop from a higher raid instance, well then I make a mental bow of honour, aware of how many nights of wiping and how much effort and team work that the drop has cost.

Wukas, about Recruiting according to the mouth-to-mouth-method, yes, certainly my arguing is full of exaggerations an black-and-white thinking! It's more fun that way... I actually do respect guilds that work out forms and demand that you put time and effort into your application. If you have a bigger, seriously raiding guild, it takes a certain amount of continuous recruiting, outside of you're closest circle of acquaintances. It's unavoidable to get more applications than you can handle by just test them out in practice, running a few instances and so on. You need some sort of sorting tool to come to the pretty hard decisions that it takes. One bad recruitment can cause devastating consequences. It's just as if you have a symphony orchestra - if even only one of the instruments is badly tuned and is playing false, you'll hear it and everybody else will suffer. And to be that person that has to tell the badly playing flutist that he'd better find another orchestra, The Orchestra for Not Tuned Musicians, is hardly a nice job, not even for players that are supposed to have cold hearts. If you can avoid it by sorting it all out at the moment of application it's a good thing. Even though I think it's hard. To write is one thing, to actually play and behave in a group is another.

Flawlless, about To level fast or with pleasure, I must say that I don't understand how you can level up not just one druid but a whole bunch of them! You must be an expert on low levelled druids! But now at last you're 70 and will be able to try out endgame. An entirely different kind of game than the levelling, actually more fun in my opinion, but that's a matter of taste. By the way it would be interesting to hear a bit more about your experiences from playing on different servers. Does it differ a lot between them, is there a certain climate, an atmosphere, that is special to each server? I curiously ask.

Finally: keep on commenting - or why not protesting, when I'm talking rubbish. My blogging is running on a mixed fuel of inspiration and transpiration, but most of all communication. Thoughts meet thoughts and suddenly something new is borne, there's a flash, just like when Larisa has discovered her last alchemy recipe. That's what makes it so charming.

Boosted

No, there was no Deadmines for real for Arisal. If you log in and suddenly is confronted by two offers to be dragged through by kind guildies, it's hard to turn them down. I could even be picky so I preferred being boosted by a paladin to a hunter, with my two latest runs through DM in memory. After all you risk to die and the walking from the graveyard in Westfall, down through all the tunnels, felt like an eternity, at least when you're close to the end of the instance.

Now it turned out that I didn't need a single res.. Miners, gnomes and pirates were literary glued to the paladin and the mobs were delivered in small, or rather large, neat heaps, only to loot. Or only or only. That is what's so laborious about being boosted. The looting that takes such awful lot of time, and that you just can't skip, partly because you need quest items, partly because you may make bargains, some nice garment or weapon that is really useful to you, well hidden in the loads of linen, wool and lousy, gray, worn equipment.

For being a level 19, Arisal had decept bagspace, over 60 slots, but it didn't take long until they were full, and yet she had panic posted loads of stuff to another char in order to make room for the run. Delayed due to a constant throwing and cleaning of the bags we finally managed to get to the master pirate himself. No, the Cruel barb didn't drop this time. But what did that matter, when I finally turned in the quests, the xp was pouring over me to that amount that Arisal towards the end of the evening had dinged 20, being close to 21.

The question is: has she really deserved it? Or is it cheating to get boosted? Shouldn't evry single xp be conquered through your own hard work, killing mob after mob? Yes and now I believe. If you're completely new in the game, you'll miss quite a lot if a nice friend of yours will help you to powerlevel by boosting you through every instance in the game. You won't learn a thing about instance playing and you won't experience the content in the same way as if you have to do take down the bosses the hard way. To boost a newbie is not to help them in the long run.

But I can't see anything wrong in helping someone that already has got a level 70 char to pull up another one a bit faster and easier. The whole game is about cooperation, to help each other whenever we can, no matter if it's about a group q or farming xp and gear in an instance.

Myself I've been boosting others a few times with my mage and I'd gladly do it again. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but there is something rewarding in being completely OP, to AoE dozens of mobs to death, seeing them falling into symmetric patterns. Once upon a time I was sneaking around in these areas like a fragile, scared little gnome, dying if someone even breathed upon me. Now the roles are the opposite. The revenge is sweet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The pros and cons of being mage

The reason for my decision to roll a mage a little more than a year ago was quite unclear to be honest. I had read a little too many fantasy books, what else? Actually I didn't have much to base it on. I guess it was a lot about hazard. Am I happy about my choice? Yes, I guess I'm pretty happy. I could probably have picked worse. Would I do the same decision today, with my current knowledge? Maybe. If there's any reader that is thinking about rolling a mage I'll give you a quick evaluation here:

Good

Beginner friendly - and challenging
Mage is a good class for a beginner to pick I think. Throw a ball. The mob is hurt. The mob die. You drink. Repete. But to become a really god mage it takes quite a lot of thinking. If you want to get out the most possible damage per time and mana you put into it, you have to learn about mana management, learn to time your cooldowns with other classes, learn to do the right thing in a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.

Polymorf
When I first learned the spell I was a bit disappointed. Hey, you can only make one sheep at a time,what different does it make when you have a whole bunch of mobs to take care of? But as time passes you understand that this is one of the most powerful cc:s in the game. At higher levels the sheep lasts for an entire minute - and best of all: you have no cooldown. You just resheep - over and over again, as long as needed. Brilliant in five man instances, but also very handy when you're soloing and can take time for bandaging yourself or having a mana gem before grabbing the last mob.

Your own food crate
You're self sufficient when it comes to food and drinks. It's lovely never having to calculate how many stacks you may need to bring to a far away corner of the world. You don't even have to make a fire to make the food. It can hardly get any easier.

Teleport
It isn't as good as the beaming device in Star Trek, but it's not far from it. It's gold to be able to shorten your travelling time for the price of a few silver for the rune, especially when you're levelling and the the quest chains take you from one island to the other, in all sorts of directions. As a mage you get a bit spoiled and you don't realize it until you try playing an non teleporting class. Then you know.

Iceblock
A lovely button for panic sitations that frost mages have enjoyed for a long while but that we fire mages got only recently. Of course you can't be very useful when you're stuck in piece of ice, but you win a few seconds and can give things a second thought - hoping that luck or someone in the party will come to your rescue.

Blink
I never grow tired of being able to jump away from the mobs in this miniature teleportation or to be able to speed up a bit, running back in an instance after a wipe. Its fun and looks cool.

Popular
Being a mage you're quite popular when it comes to instance playing. You're definitely not in the class of a healer or a tank, but at least you're not in the very bottom of the ranking list. Many people want a mage for the sheep, a decent dps and for free food and drink.

They won't blame you
Being a mage you rarely play the leading character. In Gruul you're supposed to tank, but otherwise there are no huge expectations on your performance. You're more of a background person, one soldier among the others. You're supposed to make decent dps, not getting aggro from the tank. No more, no less. If anything go wrong it's probably the healer or the tank that is blamed, no matter how unfair it is. As a mage you can generally go free from uncomfortable attention.

Cheap repairs
Of course you can swear at only being able to wear cloth, that gives such a lousy protection. On the other hand it's much cheaper to patch some simple clothes than to engage into blacksmithing. In spite of dying many times, my repair bills after an instance are nothing if you compare it to the poor tank.

Not so good

Taxi driver
As nice and natural it is being able to offer a portal after finishing an instance, as unpleasant is it to get all those whispers in Stormwind, people wanting you to make portals over and over again. The worst thing is that if you fall for it and make a portal for someone, you instantly have ten new requests to deal with - you have made people aware of that there's a living taxi driver in the middle of the square. Of course you can ignore the whispers, but all that pink text is shining into my eyes and finally I have to have a look at it, in order not to miss calls from friends.

Kitchen slave
Your biggest asset in the game is time. The gold you have, the epic gear you're wearing ar after all just a result form how you've chosen to spend your time. Mages are expected to spend their time making bread and water for others. It seems that other players seriously believe that we think this is great fun, the thing we want to do most of all in the game. It's one thing if you're dealing with guildies, friends or party members. I love to share my food and drinks with them. But to slave for total strangers doesn't make anyone happy.

Too popular
To be a mage isn't quite as being a hunter, but it's not far from it. There are thirteen of us in a dozen and if you're thinking about making a career in the game you can hardly expect the top guilds of the server standing in a queue, begging you to join their guilds.

You're not a star
If you want to get general admiration from the public, feel that you're making big difference and that your participation has meant a big difference for the success of the raid, the mage class isn't the first thing to pick. You'lll rarely - or at least not without big efforts - top the damage lists, you'll se yourself passed by rogues and warlocks. In Karazhan your cc is suddenly useless, while others can keep on shackling, banishing, fearing and trapping. If several players die during the fight and a druid is there for battleressing, the mage isn't the obvious choice. According to Blizzard the mage class is right now supposed to be specialists in making good aoe. But that's not enough. It's no hazard that raiding mages for quite a while have been wining immensly in all sorts of forums.

All those corpse runs
Graygraygray is the world to you, quite often. One hit and you're down. Being a mage you're visiting the graveyard much more often than others.

The water drinking
Sometimes there's a bit too much of water drinking in order to stay fun, at least while you're levelling. Kill one or two mobs. Drink. Over and over again. In instances you allways feel like a drag anchor, keeping the whole party back by the constant demand of drinking. You don't do it to be mean, but you still fee how the whole group impatiently is drumming their fingers, waiting for you to get mana back.

A mage is a mage is a mage
Being a mage you can't do much else but being a dps machine. I can't help getting a bit envious thinking of palas, shammys and druids that can vary their role when they feel like a change (even though it may take them some gold and new gear). And priests at least can switch between shadow and holy. But a mage is a mage. You throw balls, no matter if they're done by fire, ice or are generally magic. This is my standard rotation for a boss fight:
1. Make five scorches in order to get the boss vulnerable for fire
2. Throw eight fire balls. Throw in one scorch to keep up the debuff.
3. Repeat until the boss is down. Interrupt from time to time if you're risking to take aggro.
It's no wonder it sometimes feels just a little bit repetitive....

Summary
This was about the pros and cons of being a mage. In this evaluation the good sides are dominating. After all I love my mage, Larisa is and will remain my main. She's fragile like few others, but she's got a hell lot of dps when things are running as they should. A creature that is constantly touching the limits. To kill or to get killed, heaven or hell. We'll see what Blizzard has planned for the mage class in the expansion. Myself, I'll stick to it, whatever happens. If you've once got a mage heart there's no way to let it go.