Healing again

I have found a temporary solution to my internet problems, so I decided to overcome my initial resistance, exacerbated by the insecurity of my internet connection, which meant I could not be confident that I could see through any dungeon group I ran, and begin to heal again.

My long-term healer and for several years my main character, only recently displaced in my affections by Millosz, and the freedom of the lone wolf damage dealer, is Paracelself.

Paracelself in a night elf holy priest, who is also a herbalist and an alchemist. He is an alchemical healer named after Paracelsus.

He has seen more complete content than any other of my characters. Alternating with his shadow priest form, which was easier to play back then than today in Legion, he completed the Loremaster achievement (close to all the quests in the Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms continents) prior to Cataclysm breaking the world. He raided Karazhan back in Burning Crusade, but never quite made it much further than that because of time, demands of a parent, and the limitations of my computer system for raiding. Once the looking-for-dungeon tool came out he would play regularly an hour or so a night running two heroic dungeons. He would be complemented by other players about the quality of his healing, although I realise now there were some missing fundamentals in his gameplay. He even completed some of the harder reputation achievements, including The Diplomat and the Guardian of Cenarius.

The other day I pulled him off the shelf, dusted him off, gave him some mouseover healing macros (which I wish I had known about long before) and tried his hand at healing random dungeons and even battlegrounds again.

The thrill of healing returned. It is very much the greatest team role in world of warcraft, and the enjoyment of healing is in part that of participating in a team sport. Even if you are not front and centre (where the tank is), or even registering on those dread damage meters that the damage dealing classes wrongly obsess about, you gain a sense of accomplishment as a healer in getting the team past the boss. It is intense, quick-fire decision making, but a process of judgement and response rather than the fast, reflex-like mechanical repetition of a rotation. Every fight is a unique situation, and although mechanics seem to have become much more central to the game, the healer must always respond to how the mechanics are affecting this set of individual players, with their pitfalls and strengths, in this unique moment.

The fantasy of healing is also immensely satisfying. I turned to healing after failing at tanking (my first real character was a warrior, who I brought up to be a tank, although it was antithetical to my instincts and the slow frames and high latency of my then computer. I know now that melee fighting is not my style, and merely burning down targets from afar is enjoyable but does not give the satisfaction of performing a responsible and difficult role. But then I did not know what I did not know. People would abuse me as a lousy tank. It was dispiriting. Healing saved me for world of warcraft. Healing was something I found I could do well.

Healers heal. Holy healers use the power of light, with gorgeous golden light rays that bless and sanctify their team mates. They serve a purpose beyond more death and decay. They mend and care for other players. I still miss the old days when priests could cast Power Word: Fortitude on other players, which would raise their health or stamina for half an hour. I remember receiving this blessing on non-healer characters as a priest would pass by, and giving it freely to other players myself as an act of random kindness. Yesterday in a battleground Paracelself would stand in the chaos of melee, in which my usual fate is to die quickly and to watch others do the same, and cast prayers of healing, distributing huge doses of health to all nearby players, and all the rogues and all the warlocks could not kill him nor my team mates. Although I do not know how to kill well in player-vs-player combat, I found this moment of winning a battle through the power of healing supremely satisfying. To cap it off in Legion, priests now can go into a holy form, through a talent, Apotheosis, in which they become a radiant angelof holy light, complete with golden wings.


So, Paracelself has now played through the main story lines of the zones Azsuna and Val’Sharah. Both these zones feature quite beautiful, yet tragic stories.

In Azsuna you meet Prince Farondis who is despised by his own people and wracked by his own guilt for a mistake he made that cast them into eternal damnation as the living dead. Yet, as you learn through the quests that this mistake was a tragic choice for good, made in a confrontation with Queen Azshara, who has truly betrayed her people for the power of the dark magic of the Legion, you forgive Prince Farondis and so too do his people.

In Val’Sharah, which is beautifully redolent of my early experiences of world of warcraft playing in the very special night elf zones of Teldrassil, Darkshore and Ashenvale, you encounter an even more tragic story. Ysera, a green dragon, is turned by the satyr Prince Xavius, along with many of the druids of the night elf forest – Cenarius and his followers, even Malfurion Stormrage, the husband of the majestic and beautiful Tyrande Whisperwind. Xavius plunges a red heart of corruption into Ysera, which turns her into a lover of corruption, part of the Emerald Nightmare. Ysera attacks her long-time friends at the besieged Temple of Elune, and the player must fight alongside Tyrande Whisperwind in making her own tragic choice to destroy the corrupted Ysera and to save her husband Malfurion Stormrage, held imprisoned in the Emerald Dream.

When Ysera dies, her corruption falls away. She ascends into the sky, returned to her green dragon aspect, no longer infected with the poisonous red of the Emerald Nightmare. She rises up towards the moon, which is the goddess of Elune, and a tear of light forms like an eclipse from the edge of the moon and crystallises in the central fount of the Tear of Elune. Elune cries for her old friend and precious being Ysera. Paracelself took this tear of Elune to the central hall of Dalaran, and placed it with the other Pillar of Creation he had taken, the Tidestone of Golganneth. There Tyrande Whisperwind thanks Paracelsf for his actions in pushing back the Legion. It brings a tear to an old healer’s heart.


Millosz’s legendary day

Yesterday Millosz travelled to Outland, and back to some of my most intense experiences of world of warcraft and saw the Outland world, and its outpost, the Isle of Quel’thenas with new eyes.

The day began with surprise that for the first time in 5 days the internet was working and a very quivk run through Setthek Halls in search of the reins of the Raven Lord.

Then Millosz resumed where she was deterred towards the end of the Burning Crusade expansion and began to pursue working for the Shatari Skyguard and Netherwing factions in the hope they will reward her their special flying mounts.

Millosz then flew to Black Temple – for the third time ever – and found two pets for her safekeeping, the Leviathan Egg pet from High Warlod Naj’entus, and the Sultry Grimoire from the presiding madam of the Den of Mortal Delights, who is a combination of barbi doll, succubus and Indian many-handed goddess (is it Kali?).

After breaking with a return visit to the beautiful abandoned Shattrath City, with its many refugees from ceaseless wars and its feuding factions of blood elves and dranei, Millosz flew to Netherstorm, and ran through the remarkable crystalline floating buildings of Tempest Keep. Millosz had been many times before to Mechanar and Botanica, and recalled many of the characters and fights. But Arcatraz was a place she had got the key for late in the Burning Crusade expansion, but had never before had the chance to complete, back in the days before the looking for group finder tool. In Arcatraz she encountered a servant of the Old Gods, an insect boss, Harbinger Skyriss, quite similar to Prophet Skeram in Ahn Qiraj. Arcatraz too was a prison for servants of the Legion and the old gods, which was crafted by the naaru, strange beings of light, whose story I have only begun to recognise as Millosz has journeyed through the Broken Isles and communicated with one of them, Xe’ra.

These three dungeons completed a piece of old unfinished business for Millosz, raising Sha’tar reputation to Exalted. There was not much of a reward for this beyond completing this goal. Then Millosz went into the central large building of the complex, Tempest Keep, where Kael’thas Sunstrider and his most powerful leaders wait. The beautiful flame coloured phoenix hawk, Al’ar, died, and as a phoenix, rose again, then died at last. in her loot I found a rare pet, the phoenix hawk hatchling. Then the great mage, Or is she a warlock, High Astromancer, Solarian, dropped a Lesser Voidcaller which I added to my Raiding with Leashes collection. She also dropped the pattern for Hurricane boots, and Millosz will craft these beautiful boots for Ceriddwen.

When Millosz fought Kael’thas Sunstrider the phone rang, my attention was divided, and he set my pets against me and threw me high into the air. Although he died, or seemed to, still Millosz died from the fall damage… all part of the experience of the raid. As I looted him I noticed the Ashes of Al’ar amidst the ruin of his fallen generals and legendary weapons. On learning this mount, I accomplished unawares a feat of strength both for Millosz and my guild. So I left Tempest keep astride this beautiful phoenix hawk, which rose once more from the dead to serve me, and proudly rode, with pink and flame ribbon feathers of light streaming behind me, through Netherstorm, to buy some pets from Dealer Rashad in the Stormspire, and onto Shattrath.

There Millosz bought new items from the Riftstalker set, and then teleported to the Isle of Quel’thenas. A fast run of Magister’s Terrace yielded from Kael’thas, who like his phoenix hawk, appeared to rise from the dead, the reins of the Swift White Hawkstrider, which I soon learnt was another of the feats of strength, and one of the hard to obtain rare mounts that are sold, with unpredictable supply, on the Black Market in the Underbelly of Dalaran, whose purpose I only doscovered yesterday.

From Magister’s Terrace I went on to run quickly through the Sunwell Plateau, and killed Kil’jaeden’s incarnation for the second time. As I checked what fell at his feet in the replenished sunwell, I saw the legendary bow, Thor’dal, the Star’s Fury, my first and only legendary item.

Then a run through Firelands yielded no pets, but at Ragnaros I did loot Arathor, Eye of Flame, a beautiful bow.

I finished the day with a nostalgic run through Karazhan, photographing myself on the opera stage.

Although I have had some rotten luck with the internet in recent weeks, this day surely was legendary, and was one that made me grateful for my enjoyment of all the cultural experiences, including the pleasure of collecting, that this game offers.

Pictures and links and one or two minor corrections to follow (posted from tablet)

Field Photographer progress

Here from wowhead is the complete list of places where Millosz will take her selfies for the Field Photographer achievement. I will make separate posts with each selfie, and a brief commentary on the cultural imaginings that the place prompts for me.

Onyxia’s Lair

The Dark Portal

 Janeiro’s Point

 Temple of Karabor



 The Deadmines

 Wyrmrest Temple


 Deathwing’s Fall

 The Shaper’s Terrace


 Westfall Lighthouse

 The Twin Colossals


 Caverns of Time

 The Scarab Dais

 Echo Isles

 Daggercap Bay

Sunsong Ranch

Auchindoun (Draenor)

 Stormwind & Ogrimmar

 The Frozen Throne


 Vale of Eternal Blossoms

 Deeprun Tram

 Thandol Span

 Battle Ring, Gurubashi Arena


 Shattrath City (Outland)

 Light’s Hope Chapel


 Wintergrasp Fortress

 Valley of Kings

Throne of the Elements

Mount Neverest

 The Stormspire

 Blackrock Mountain

 Ravenholdt Manor

 Uther’s Tomb

 Throne of Kil’jaeden

 Turtle Beach

 Halls of Origination

The joy of playing one main

Although my internet woes continue, over the last week the problems have been less frequent and so I have had some sustained time playing the game. What I have discovered has surprised me a little. When I resubscribed to wow a couple of weeks before the Legion launch, I think I imagined that I would play several characters. I would quickly scout the content with my hunter, and then bring my priest up mainly through healing dungeons, and keep up a druid, a warlock, a mage, and finally play that shaman I have always been meaning to get around to.

But what I have found is a strong attachment to one character, and unease at playing alts. This surprised me, but I do not mean to turn this into a complaint. There is discussion of an alt wall, but also some more thoughtful comments on the forums that there is something very enjoyable about focussing in depth on one main character.

I have found that my Beastmaster Hunter, Millosz, has become my preferred guide through the universe of Azeroth. I did try for a while to level up my priest, Paracelself, but gave up quickly, for a combination of reasons: not trusting the internet for group content, finding holy priest questing possible but slow, and disliking the feel of a shadow priest as the alternative dps-questing route. Sticking with my hunter has meant I have been able to learn more about playing the game well, memorising actions and abilities, getting used to a particular interface and set of keybindings, and seeing all that the game has to offer through one character, rather than repeating the same narrower range of performances with multiple characters.

So I have found that I have begun to explore and do many things with my main character I would not have tried if I had quickly jumped back onto alts after reaching 110.

I have played pvp, with a determined focus of playing within my abilities preferring to defend bases, rather than charge relentlessly into death against much more talented, twitchy and angry fighters. So I have discovered that achieving the objectives of battlegrounds is vastly more important than blasting people for no good reason but the thrill of a virtual kill.

I have been going back over the old raids and even the old dungeons. Most of the old raids I had not been to before, and while there is no challenge in the encounters, the experience of these vast and often beautifully rendered places, with music and effects that can captivate you. Many of the dungeons I had been to before, but last night as I was going through some old favourites from Wrath of the Lich King – the Nexus, Violet Hold, Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning – it was as if I was bale to see what was happening and appreciate the experience for the first time. Without the panic of time and rush, especially without that awful habit people developed of just storming through dungeons silently with no stops or breaks, just a flurry of trash, I was able to quietly look around, take in the names and appearance and dialogue of these bosses. I had visited many of these dungeons primarily as a healer, and anxious to perform well, I remember little of what was really going on except declining health bars on clickable raid frames. Alll of this is helped by having now a computer that can play the game on high graphics quality at high frames per second, making it all a richer aesthetic experience.

I have also discovered the Raiding with Leashes achievements, and belatedly got into the pursuit of mounts and achievements. Although there can be a purpose to doing these old raids – gold, mounts, pets, achievements – for me the more important part is to Again, I could do some of these things on multiple characters, but there is something about going through the whole experience with just one character that is very special. In the last week I also discovered how easy it was to get the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera from the Garrison, and so have begun the process of getting myself selfied in all the many places I visit for the Field Photographer achievement.

This image is of Millosz taking a selfie, with spirit beast Ban’thalos flashing by her, in the Emerald Dream after I completed the Emerald Nightmare raid in its entirety through Looking for Raid. That too is one of the pleasures of focussing on one character – for the first time ever really I have played through successfully – I never died, I wasn’t high on dps, but I played through all the encounters correctly – a current raid.

I have also discovered that the acquisition of artifact power is not such a great problem for alts. Since I have been unable to play the game for stretches of days or a week at a time, I have found that I benefit from artifact research enormously. I would think that a player could readily rest an alt for a few days or a week at a time, while still doing their artifact research, and very rapidly speed up the development of their artifact traits. In my case I found I would generally go up a level on Titanstrike in one session.

I still think I will at some point renew Cerridwen’s journey through the game, but for the time being I am going to make this blog focus more on Millosz’s discoveries about the cultural experience of world of warcraft.

Vanilla Nostalgia

My internet woes continue so that I have not been able to log into the game now since Saturday, and have not been able to log into the game for two successive days without disconnections for 4.5 weeks now.

I have decided to stop butting my head against the wall of an inexplicable network fault, and for the last two nights played Skyrim on the PC. For whatever reason I could never really adapt myself to controlling the game through my son’s Xbox controller, and despite being drawn into it never progressed very far. Now on my PC, with its top notch graphics card, I can adapt the movement, camera and use of abilities to be more like wow, and more familiar. It is a visually stunning game, and very immersive, and its storyline and look is more high fantasy tham wow’s pastiche of every game and fantasy genre.

Apart from that I have been reflecting on my history in the game of World of Warcraft, and looking back on how I got involved in the game, what entranced me, and how my connection to it has changed over time. In part these memories were triggered by listening to The World of Warcast podcast. I was searching itunes for a podcast to satisfy my curiosity about the game while I could not play it due to my connection faults, and, after checking in on a couple I could remember from the time, maybe four years ago, that I was most active, such as The Instance and Ctrl-Alt-Wow, I lucked upon World of Warcast.

I think I listened to a whole episode, in which the male host, Mike, spoke with Patrick Beja, and perhaps another 20 minutes of another episode before I remembered that I used to listen to this show regularly, back in the day. It was the voice and the intelligence of Renata, Mike’s co-host, that reminded me of the show, but also both Mike and Renata spoke about their experience of letting go or losing interest in the game before coming back with a renewed joy in playing for Legion. This was my experience too. I really must leave them a five star review on i-tunes – not something I have really wanted to do before.

So this afternoon, rather than bombard myself with wow error messages – the disconnection errors of 51900319, 51900002 and 51901016 I know by heart now, gggrrr – I began to try to piece back together my early experiences playing wow. I will save up some of those memories for later posts because I suspect my connection will be faulty for another week yet, at least.

But I have felt tremedous nostalgia for the game in vanilla, or World of Warcraft in its first edition. When I played through Val’Sharah in Legion, I remember a flood of happy memories of early questing in Teldrassil, and the mesmerising enchantment of that world when I entered it for the first time. It was the music, the forest and druidic themes, and the beauty of the night elf cosmos and mythology which was a large part of what drew me into the game.

These memories led me to wonder if there was a way to recover the history of your adventures through the game. In some ways the achievements tab serves this function, but I have often felt wow would be enhanced by a quest journal. In some ways I guess my idea to create an online record of Ceriddwen’s adventures and encounters with myth, lore and symbols is a way of recording that experience of gradually piecing together, from task driven quests, a deeper set of stories carried by a character. I might even try to develop a timeline to go with it.

I could not find any way to retrace your character’s steps online. The Armory does it for recent acivity feed, but not for longer. Warcaft Realms provides the history of a character’s membership of guilds. This is partial, but from querying my characters I was able to date when I joined the game. My earliest guild membership was 2 August 2006. I think I had probably played the game for 4-8 weeks before then. The game launched in November 2004, and Burning Crusade was released late January 2007. That fits my memory of starting about six months before Burning Crusade, and part of my very early discovery about the game was the whole idea of expansions and patches.

There was something about that early experience, still 18 months into the game, that was a sheer joy of learning how to be together in this persistent virtual world. People would dance on mailboxes, and play the joke emotes, and generally just daff around. My first guild, from which I learnt so much about what I was meant to do, and what all the abbreviations and leet speak meant, was a guild called the knights who say nee on Aman’thul. I looked them up and they are still going strong. I remember whenever someone logged in they would say not hi or wassup, but nee! There was this wonderful feeling of creating something special and fun together, and a very special kind of imaginative freedom.

To some extent that experience can never be repeated, even if people create vanilla wow servers. After such knowledge, what innocence? But in a small way I do think Legion has created some new opportunities for exploration, discovery and free imaginative play. I also think, when I ultimately do take Ceriddwen through all her adventures, slowly and attentively, I will be able to absorb more of the lore and symbolism, since I will have already learned how to be in this imagined cultural world.

Soloing legacy raids: Burning Crusade

My most advanced character, Millosz, who I think I now will adopt as a main character, in preference to my healer Paracelself, has begun to solo all the legacy raids, beginning from the original set of level 60 raids, and moving onto the highest level that is possible for me to solo.

This plan I am pursuing in fits and starts, because my internet connection is still shaky. But I have now completed both the Classic Raider and the Burning Crusade raider achievements. The only raids I had entered before were parts of Ahn’Qiraj Temple, Karazhan, and apparently Magtheridon’s Lair. I have no memory at all of Mag’s Lair, but there it is on my achievement list.

Raiding was always just too difficult for me to organise since I could not commit to any kind of raiding schedule, and, when I did play, I was often quite unsure about what I was meant to do next, and, as I explained in an earlier post, still to learn some basics of movement and swift action manipulating my character in the world. My recollections are of a quite tense, if often thrilling, experience, but of constant slow frame rates making much of the encounter jerky, with a barrage of visual information, most of which I screened out in order to try to stay alive, or, as I mostly played as my healer in raids, watching little else but the grid raid frames that I clicked over and over to keep others alive.

I had long wanted to go back and see the “content” of these raids, but when the looking for raid tool came out it was not common to find groups who wanted to pursue story, rather than gear. I had read about druids soloing Molten Core years ago, but again to do so required being in a raid group of at least two, and that was often not convenient or easy for me to arrange.

So I was delighted to find a few weeks ago this guide to soloing legacy raids. Armed with this knowledge and confidence, I jumped in last weekend and ran Ahn’Qiraj. During the week I did Molten Core, which is a great maze of larva, which like Ahn’Qiraj features an elemental power who has made a dark deal with the Old Gods.

Then with my internet working on Thursday I ran all the remaining Burning Crusade raids. There are no challenges in any of these fights, of course, with a level 110 character. Most of the time my arrows kill the bosses with one shot and no demands are made of my loyal pets, the beautiful and mysterious Ban’thalos (a spirit beast owl who I stalked for days even weeks to tame, and deserves a post of its own) and Hati (who on this site devoted to allusions of Azeroth deserves a dedicated post, but for now check this brief reference). But it is a beautiful experience to wander through these vast raid dungeons, although even now I feel I should slow down some more to pick up more of the details and the story.

The culmination of this experience were the runs through the three raids I knew of when I was at the peak of my playing (Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King), but could never enter – the Sunwell, Black Temple, and Tempest Keep. I can even remember forlornly clicking on the gates of these forbidding buildings, and receiving a message along the lines of you are not permitted to enter here unless you are in a raid group. And I never was geared or skilled enough to pass the screen’s on i-level of gear to get into raid groups.

But now the stories are available, and although there is so much to be done in Legion, I am very much enjoying going back and finding that so much that appears to me as new – like the strange beings of light the naaru, which appear with Paracelself’s artifact weapon, T’uure, Beacon of the Naaru – have been hidden away in stories and dramatic scenes that before now I have not been able to reach, or been so driven by the mechanics of the game that I have not noticed its symbols and stories.

Both Tempest Keep and Sunwell are stories of blood elves who have been tempted by the forces of demonic power, and now use their access to magical energy for ill. This storyline is very common in World of Warcraft, and could be changed up a bit.

The final encounter with Kael’thas Sunstrider in Tempest Keep is especially enjoyable. Like so many leaders, he sets his loyal lieutenants or generals out to defeat you first, but then summons weapons, legendary weapons, with magic. For a moment I thought I had for the very first time, possessed a legendary weapon or item, but these do not ensure beyond the encounter. Although you think you defeat him there, he appears again later in Magister’s Terrace, which I also ran as the last heroic dungeon outstanding in Burning Crusade for me, and appears very much as the obsessed manipulator who always believes he has one more cunning plan up his sleeve to defeat the more ordinary types.


Black Temple was important to run to understand better the stories that heature in Legion of Illidan Stormrage and Maiev Shadowsong. Illidan is the Betrayer, who it is believed, has turned on his own people and unleashed demons against him. You enter his Black Temple, with all the evocations of a black mass, through the sewers, before making your way through a tribute to Hieronymus Bosch , the Den of Mortal Delights, featuring masses of concubines, and twinned devils, the mistress of pain and the mistress of pleasure. The most remarkable thing about this encounter, however, is its conclusion. After beating down Illidan, Maiev enters and he kneels before her like a scolded child looking for reassurance. Both Maiev and Illidan’s stories reappear in Legion.

Finally Sunwell concludes with an encounter with one of the primary sources of evil in the game, Kil’Jaeden. He is the Deceiver, and has taken control of the Sunwell, which is one of a few rare wells of magical energy, all linked to a primary symbol (sun, moon, night, eternity), to distort it to serve the Legion, the demons who want to destroy the world, the Burning Crusade.

In fact you learn that Kil’Jaeden has really taken possession of a naaru being, and twisted its powerful magic to demonic purposes. Prophet Velen, the leader of the dranei, who were a race of people with connections to these beings and were introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion, appears at the end and completes a rite of the purification of the Sunwell. So the expansion achieves a dramatic closure, which at last Millosz has come to understand.


Revisiting the Fallen Kingdom of Ahn’Qiraj

Last night I took Millosz to run through the two raid instances of the Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj and the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj.

Both these two raids are vast, sprawling ruins of a Fallen Kingdom of Qiraji, and beneath the sands, the swarming insects, and Egyptian themed ruins, pyramids, and anubis-inspired guardians are hives guarded by wasps, scorpions and scarabs, which lead down to two imprisoned twin emperors, royal insects and many dark secrets.

In the Temple is an old god, C’thun, whose power represents a threat to the world itself. C’thun is an enormous eye, who appears for a moment when you enter the room of the Twin Emperors as the Master. When you fight him he spreads a circle of black haze and sucks you into his stomach. C’thun is said by some to be based on a character from the H.P. Lovecraft universe, but the idea of the all-seeing eye, and of a being consumed by this purpose alone, is of wider significance.

I was struck on entering the instance that the Order of the Unseen path greet me at the gate, and this same order of hunters are there at my class hall in Legion. So too the raid has themes of the Old Gods, who were fought in an ancient battle, and imprisoned behind a scarab wall by dragons since their magic threatened to destroy the world.

I intend to travel through all the legacy raids that can be soloed, which are most of them before Mists of Pandaria. It is not the same experience as doing them in a large group. For one, I was one-shotting the bosses with my autoshots. You do not get much of the drama of the encounters, although I was for a time perplexed about what to do when I was sucked into the stomach of C’thun. But now is the first time I can experience these raids with a decent quality computer, without lag and slow fps. Since I am not trying to work out what on earth is going on, I can also take in the aesthetics of the instances and the storyline.