It seems to be that the more adamant I am about writing more, the less I do it. It’s like the universe listens to my plans and says “Nup! Not today!” and I get ridiculously busy. Which is how I find myself in the middle of December all of a sudden. When did that happen?! I’ve been travelling a fair bit for work over the past month running workshops and the like, which is, to put it mildly, exhausting. I don’t travel well at the best of times, let alone when it’s for work and I’m stressing about a presentation I have to do when I land. Suffice to say my life has just been a bit overwhelming at the moment, meaning I haven’t written blog posts and I haven’t been streaming.

On the plus side, Christmas is two weeks away, and I’m having two weeks off! *block your ears, universe!!!* I’m determined to stream a whoooole lot during that time off to make up for the lack of streams of late. But before that, we’re having a guild Christmas party that I need to prepare for!

Which occurs to me… I haven’t written that I went back to Realm lol Side note! I went back to my old guild. The plan is for us to try yet again in 8.1, but taking a much more relaxed approach to the mythic raiding. I have hope. 🙂

Anyways, we’re having a Christmas party this weekend, because I just thought it would be nice for us all to get together and be stupid together. I’m going to do organise a scavenger hunt and Dalaran darts and a drunk raid and just silly things to have fun with. I even bought prizes! Half of the big box of goodies I had delivered recently was stuff for the Christmas Party.

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Anyways, that’s where I am at the moment. Give me two weeks and I’ll be around a lot more!

xo

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It’s been 2 lockouts since Realm disbanded. It’s been weird not raiding. I played a whooole lot less. The break was nice in a way, but to be honest one of the main reasons I wasn’t playing as much because there just wasn’t anyone else around. It got very lonely very quickly, and it was seriously bumming me out.

On Thursday (with some help from the lovely Lemon) I changed my status on Wowprogress to “looking for guild” to see what would happen.

I had some decisions already set in stone:

  1. I was staying Alliance. I just dislike the Horde aesthetic so much that I don’t want to go back to it. Also, almost all of my toons are Alliance, and I just don’t want to have to faction change them all just to raid.
  2. I was probably going to have to move to Frostmourne in order to find a team. It’s a very Alliance heavy server with a high population, so lots of Alliance raiding guilds. And all the other servers are far too quiet, so if things didn’t work out I’d be stuck on a server with few options.
  3. I was staying shaman. I’m too attached to my shaman ways.
  4. No increase to raid time – 3 days max of prog raiding. Ideally, 2, but that’s pretty hard to find.
  5. No downgrades – I wanted to find a team within 1 boss prog of myself.
  6. The guild I end up in has to be a good fit people-wise. That’s what made raiding with Realm so amazing – the people. I want to be able to dick around with people and have fun and joke around with each other. And kill bosses.

I got a btag friend request the next morning, and well long story short, I’ve moved servers to Frostmourne and have a trial in a guild. AS ELEMENTAL. Yep, this shaman’s shooting lightning for awhile.

This was a big decision for me. I’ve been a healer for as long as I’ve raided (minus 2 weeks where I tried to be dps back in WoD), so raiding as a full time dps will definitely be a change. But I think it’s going to be a good one. I’ll still always have my healer spec there if I’m ever needed to heal, so that’s not going to go away. There are some changes coming in 8.1 for elemental shamans that I’m hoping will help make the spec a bit better to play… but we can only wait and see.

The thing that really attracted me to this guild was the recruitment person was really lovely, answering all my stupid questions. They also apparently watched some of my streams, which made me feel better because firstly, they know I’m a girl, and secondly, they have seen me play, so they know what they’re in for. They don’t mind me streaming raids, either, which is great. And lastly, something that will either be fantastic, or terrible, their raid times start and finish earlier. I’m a little nervous at the start time being 6:30, as sometimes I haven’t even left work until that time. But if I can get to work earlier and leave earlier, it will be fine. Which means slightly earlier nights, which I think will be good for my tired old self.

I’m obviously terrified. I’m always terrified of putting myself out there, especially knowing people will be watching and scrutinising. I’ve said that they just need to let me know if I’m not cutting it – I’d rather know sooner than dragging it out, because I don’t like letting a team down. But I just have to try my best. It’s all I *can* do. If things don’t work out, at least I gave it a go.

So! Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that I can actually pull this elemental thing off, and that these guys are a good fit! 🙂

xo

I’ve been working hard since my last post to set everything up for me to get a bit braver and be more serious about my streaming.

Like I mentioned in that post, I’m going to start streaming some non-WoW content. Because of this, I’ve made the decision to move away from having my pandaren shaman be my “face”. It was a tough decision, because my pandaren has really been the embodiment of my personality for almost as long as I’ve played WoW. But that right there was the problem. So much of what I do creatively at the moment has been so focussed on WoW that trying to do something outside of it has been extremely difficult. WoW has been my clutch, and despite it opening so many doors for me in terms of friendships and content creation, it has also been holding me back. So my pandaren had to go.

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I thought a while about what I wanted to be outside of my pandaren. I am not even a little bit attractive, so showing my real face and body is out of the question (I do not have the self esteem to deal with that at all). The answer was obvious in the end – a unicorn! Well, a chubby unicorn anyway hehe. While looking for inspiration for what she might look like, I came across the perfect depiction of me. She’s chubby, sassy, and she games. 😀 There’s actually a whole series that I’ve purchased that depict her in so many different ways. (I can’t wait for Christmas!!!)

I have been madly making graphics and updating everything to have my new unicorn persona. My name won’t change – I’m Cinder now until the day I stop gaming. Despite having only recently revamped by twitch stream, it really didn’t suit the new persona. Thankfully Streamlabs have some really great set ups built in and free to use. I’ve gone all out on this. It has sparkles!!! It might be girly and silly, but I truly don’t care. I’m really having fun with this. I even made new emotes and badges (though I will say this was the hardest part – I really love the totems Sirius made for me).

Here’s a little peek at my twitch page…

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Cute, huh?!

I have a friend helping me get a capture card for my PC so that I can hook up our Nintendo Switch and stream some games from there. I also had a look at some games on Steam (and was promptly disgusted at some of the games suggested to me there.) I’m even considering getting Discord Nitro to try out some of the games they have on offer. In the meantime, I’m focusing on getting a proper schedule going, starting tomorrow night. I’ll probably stream some WoW first… might even brave LFR (oh my!). Onward and upward! In the meantime, if  you’re interested in coming to hang out with me while I stream, you can find me here – https://twitch.tv/cinder_streams

Anyways, I wanted to share the new Cinder with you all. Hope you like her!

xo

 

It’s been hard to start this post. Or any other blog post for that matter, if I’m being completely honest. But this one, I don’t really know how to start. I know the things I have to say, but putting them in order is proving difficult. So how about we make a deal and pretend this is the middle of the blog post and flow on from there. Let’s give it a go.

The past few weeks (or months, really), haven’t been the greatest for me.

The guild crash

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Unrelated to the below (but in a way still very connected) my guild fell apart for good. We tried to keep it together but it was too much to try and push through. The gap between strong players and weaker players was becoming bigger and bigger. The in-game workload for officers and the GM was far too much, and the payoff wasn’t there. It was a really tough call, but it was the right decision in the end. So as of last week we stopped raiding mythic, and the guild officially went casual, with a social heroic run planned for every Saturday night so we could all still spend time together.

This week was the first week without raid, and it felt weird. Tonight was the first casual Saturday raid… and we only had a handful of people come along. So I really don’t know how that’s going to go in the future. Suffice it to say that I’m pretty sad at the moment.

For me, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do. Raiding has always been a favourite thing for me in game, so to not do it feels weird. But trying to find another raid team… well I dunno how I’m going to go about it. I’ve never had much confidence in my skills as a raider. I do know that I’m not terrible. I do mechanics, I heal while I do them, and I try my damn hardest. It’s the same as when I try to apply for jobs – I know that I can contribute well, but I’m shit at selling myself. Especially with raiding. Logs are a thing, but my numbers always look shit because I hate overhealing, and I make sure I’m focusing on doing mechanics first and foremost.

And this shitty lack of confidence in myself doesn’t help when (now) ex-guildies are getting offers left and right from other teams wanting them to join. I haven’t had anything. Which is petty, I know, but it just reinforces that shitty feeling about myself not being good enough.

I’ve been looking on the forums to see what guilds are after, and I’m not finding any at the level I want to be at who are looking for restoration shamans. (Well, Alliance guilds, anyway). There’s a high chance I’m going to have to go Horde if I want to keep raiding, and that on its own is not at all appealing. I’ll need to give it some more time and thought, and hope something comes along.

Then there’s…

The anxiety

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There are a handful of things that I am good at in life, but the thing that I am the very best at is pretending that my anxiety isn’t as bad as it is, and that it doesn’t affect me as strongly as it does. I’m very good at putting on the face that the world needs to see on me, and pretending that everything is fine. I can laugh and joke and make others feel great, and I do it in an attempt to hide the panic that grumbles inside me on a constant basis. I’ve become very good at it. So good at it that people don’t believe I have anxiety at all, and when I bring it up with doctors, they laugh it off thinking I’m just being melodramatic or joking around.

And yet.

I struggle to sleep, laying there as my body tingles with terror, restless and exhausted all at once. If I am lucky to sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks so intense they make me gag. At work, I go to the bathroom for a short moment of solace, squeezing my legs in an attempt to calm the roaring in my ears, to breathe, to focus. It’s exhausting. And over the past few months, it has gotten worse, to the point where it’s crippled me. I’ve not been functioning properly. It’s affecting my health, my relationship, my friendships, my streaming and gaming; everything that is important to me.

I bring this up, because firstly, I wanted to explain my absence (noted or not). I wanted others who may be feeling the same way to know they aren’t alone. And I wanted to be accountable for trying to get better. It has taken awhile to build the courage, but I went to the doctor again this week (a different one) and insisted they help me do something so I can stop feeling like this. I have referrals for a psychologist, and some anti-anxiety meds to help me get out of this funk. I’m not going to let anxiety get the best of me.

What’s next

So then what’s next. Well, I’m starting to feel better, which is why I’ve written this post. And I’m taking steps to keep getting better. I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me and WoW. I know I will continue playing, but I don’t know to what extent. I had a great chat with Neuro after our Battletagged show on Tuesday, and he was telling me about how much more he’s been enjoying WoW since he stepped down from raiding. So maybe there is hope for me outside of raiding.

One of the things I’m saddest about though, with everything that has been going on, is my streaming. It turns out that I really, really enjoy streaming. I’m terrible at it, and I don’t think I’m interesting at all, but I just enjoy playing games with other people. Thor (who I just don’t deserve- he’s so freaking amazing) has been incredibly patient and wise, and we’ve been talking about what I might do. And it became obvious – I just stream something other than WoW. We looked in to what I might stream, and there a whole bunch of games on the Nintendo Switch I’d enjoy playing, and of course Steam and even Discord has a bunch of games now. So I’m looking at getting a capture card and expanding my gaming options.

I’m still ironing out the finer details, but some changes are on their way. I want to get back in to a regular streaming schedule. I will (of course!) still play and stream WoW, especially if I manage to find a new team, but between that, I’m going to try some other games. This also means that I’m going to do a bit of a “re-branding” of myself. Whilst I love my pandaren Shaman, I need to move away from the strictly WoW focus. So keep an eye out for some fun new things in the very near future.

Look, if you’ve made it this far through my post, thank you. Thank you for sticking it out with me when I disappear for lengths at a time. Thank you for reading this post and helping me feel like I’m not alone. You’re amazing, and I’m grateful for you.

xo

 

Those of you who follow my twitter account will have seen that this past week was quite the rollercoaster. I’m personally still reeling a little bit from everything that happened (though I am overly dramatic, I know).

On Wednesday, Realm as a guild ended. And then on Thursday, it didn’t. Confused? Well, it will make sense. But to explain properly, I need to go backwards.

At the end of Legion

Realm as a guild technically formed at the end of the Tomb of Sargeras raid in Legion, though was made up of people who had been raiding together already for at least a year, some even longer. We went in to Antorus as a new team, determined to get Cutting Edge Argus. Which we achieved. We also managed to be the top ranking Alliance guild on our little server, which we were pretty proud of. We ended Legion as Titanslayers- strong and ready for Battle for Azeroth.

A few weeks before BfA came out we held a guild meeting to start making plans for raiding in the new expansion. We were having troubles trying to figure out our roster as it had suddenly grown to almost 40 players – waaaay too many. We needed to make some decisions about what type of team we wanted to be so that we could build the right team. So we asked everyone what they wanted from BfA; did we want to work on mythics, but bring through lower performing players (effectively being a “friends and family” mythic raiding guild) or did we want to push harder, be tougher about who came to raid and try for faster progression. The agreement from everyone was that we wanted to push harder. We were in a good spot- we had loads of players to choose from, and we all wanted to be better.

Going in to BfA

Going in to BfA everyone (including officers and GM) were dropped to trial rank. Our GM was re-chosen to lead us all, and new Officers were voted in (myself included). We had requirements about what level people needed to be at for raid, and agreed for the first few weeks of Uldir, we’d add in an extra night of raiding to help get us ahead.

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Our first week of Uldir was great with us getting Heroic G’huun down, giving us Ahead of the Curve in the first week. We were pretty stoked. The following week mythic opened, and we managed to get TWO mythic bosses down in addition to a heroic re-clear, giving us a bit of time to work on mythic Zek’voz.

And then last week happened. We cleared through heroic relatively quickly, as well as re-killing the first two mythic bosses, giving us days of attempts on Zek’voz. But we struggled. We didn’t get the kill. And worse than that, we felt like we were going backwards. On Monday, we had a really bad night, with many people under-performing and even more people getting extremely frustrated at both performance and lack of progression.

Here’s the thing about mythic raiding. It’s really stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to be performing to a super high standard. If you don’t meet that standard, you make mistakes, and mistakes mean wipes. For some people (like me) I like the pressure. I like the stress of it, I like wiping and failing, because we we do win, when we nail that delicate balance and we all figure out the dance together, the victory is so worth it. I love that feeling of accomplishment when it all just falls in to place and we win as a team. I love the nerd screams. I love our failed kill screenshots. I love it all. But it is really stressful. And you have to feel like you’re getting the payoff for it to be worth it.

Monday

After our rubbish night on Monday, the Officer team had a meeting, and our GM confessed he was done. He’d had enough. For him, as GM and raid lead, the stress and pressure is multitudes higher than for anyone else, and after that night it just got too much. The payoff wasn’t worth it, and he needed to step down. At that time he wasn’t 100% decided on what to do, and our meeting was to try and figure out what we could do. Could someone else take on lead? What would be the consequences of him stepping down? Who would step up? What could we do? I went to bed that night in tears – I could see the writing on the wall, and I was devastated. I could only imagine how our GM was feeling, too 😦

Tuesday

At the end of our meeting, one of our officers (and top dps) decided it was time for him to move on to a higher progressing guild (which he has found, and I’m super happy for him). We had suggested our GM think on his decision a little more and get back to us, but on the Tuesday, we also lost a tank. Then the Wednesday morning, another dps.

I spent a lot of Tuesday talking with the GM and other officers about the whole situation. It’s always a hard decision. I won’t go in to any specifics of our conversations, but a lot of what was making the decision so difficult came down to just how much the GM loved the guild and the people in it, but also just how stressed and worn out he was with it all. Being GM and raid lead has got to be one of the most thankless tasks out there. It’s so much work and effort to keep things running. And even with officers helping with bits and pieces here and there, and with talking to the team and asking them to take issues and concerns out of raid, it doesn’t stop those things from happening. It drives me up the wall, and I only experience it a little. It’s nothing compared to what a GM has to put up with.

Wednesday – the break-up

A team meeting was held on the Wednesday night (instead of raid) and our GM announced he was stepping down as raid lead, and that the future of the raid team depended on what everyone else wanted to do. People were asked to think on it for a bit, and let us all know what their plans were – did they want to stay and try and fill in the gaps, or did they want to move on to another team. No grudges would be held, we just needed to know so a decision could be made. In the end, too many people said they would be moving on without our GM in the leadership role.

So we came back together for one last team meeting with everyone… and our GM announced there were too many people looking to move on, so this was it…. and I bawled my eyes out (as did he, the poor thing). It was a horrible, emotional moment. I was genuinely heartbroken. I’ve been in guild break-ups before (far too many, actually) and they have always been hard. But this one felt different. This one really cut deep. It really felt like a relationship breaking up. I couldn’t imagine not spending each week with these people, laughing and yelling and struggling with these people. We all had good and bad times together… I didn’t want that to end. And yet here we were.

The fallout was… interesting. Once the meeting was done, people kinda just took a breath, and then decided to go run heroic Uldir together. I was a mess and sat out, but stayed in game because I just didn’t really know what else to do. But no-one gquit or raged or ranted. Everyone was just… sad. Overnight a couple of people faction swapped to join other friends in other guilds, but it wasn’t in anger. It was quiet and kind.

I posted about it on twitter, and had so many beautiful and amazing responses of support back from people. I was genuinely overwhelmed. But still heartbroken. I went to bed that night wondering what on earth I was going to do. How was I going to find a new team? Who on earth would take a shaman to a raid right now? Did I still even want to raid? And even worse… did I still even want to play WoW anymore?

Thursday

I went to work on Thursday exhausted and mentally drained. No-one at work really understood it (one person even kind of scoffed at the situation) which didn’t really help. I felt sad, and tired, but added to that, I was also sick to my stomach. Our GM was feeling almost instant regret about the decision, and it made me feel awful. I felt I had given him bad advice about everything. (My focus was on making sure he was going to be ok with the decision he made, and to not feel guilted in to sticking around if he didn’t want to. You know my mantra – WoW is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.) Thursday morning SUCKED plain and simple. I had lost my guild, and felt like I had been a bad friend to someone who has been exceptionally kind to me. I was not having a good time.

But then Thursday afternoon happened.

Thursday afternoon, our GM logged in to game, expecting the guild to have emptied, and instead still found it full of people. They didn’t want to go. This was their home, and they wanted to stay. That coupled with our GM’s regret… and well, the guild un-broke-up. Our GM posted in our Discord a really heartwarming message saying the guild would be staying together… and then I cried again as people cheered and left sweet messages and were just everything we didn’t want to leave behind. The thing that makes this guild so special is the people in it. Sure, we all fight and bicker and give each other shit, but that’s what families do.

We went back in to finish off the heroic clear on Thursday night with a renewed sense of togetherness. We also managed to one-shot the last 3 bosses on heroic and the first mythic boss, which just goes to show how much better peoples’ performance is when they’re in a good mood! 😀

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The aftermath

Things seem to be calm, now. The people who had faction changed managed to have them reverted (thanks Blizzard!!!) and came back to the guild as soon as they could. We ran our usual normal run on Saturday night, which went surprisingly well. And tonight’s mythic run, though thwarted by the attendance boss (thanks NRL grand final!), was smooth and successful.

Most people understand why things got they way they did – we pushed too hard. Raiding 4 nights a week was taking it out of people. The constant feeling of pressure was overwhelming for a lot of people, and it was wearing everyone down – not just the GM, but everyone. So we’re taking a step back. We will continue to raid mythic level, with the goal of getting Cutting Edge each tier. But not at the expense of the team.

The whole thing feels like a really sappy daytime romantic comedy in a way. But whatever it was, we’ve come out the other side of it, and I feel like in a way, we’re almost a bit better for it. Those who wanted more have moved to a place they can get that progression, and everyone else back here is on the same page. I’m grateful for this crazy bunch of beautiful people. Here’s to many more raids together as a the silly, dysfunctional WoW-family we are. realm_logo_on_dark_grey

xo

It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in one of these challenges (which is pretty hilarious given I’m one half of the team that runs these things… ) I’m aiming to do better with these challenges, though, so here I am.

I chose this topic for the challenge because I wanted to see some more positive posts around the place. Pre-expansion patches are always difficult; people are upset about class changes, addons stop working for awhile… the general sense of upheaval can really get to people, and it’s been showing in the community. My hope was to see some posts that focused on the good stuff. And here is mine.

The topic is in two parts – My Top 3 Legion moments, and then What I’m most looking forward to in Battle for Azeroth.

Part 1 – My Top 3 Legion moments

Ok firstly can I just say that Legion has been absolutely incredible with the amount of content it had. We had artifacts that had class customised scenarios to go with them, class order halls and class mounts and customised quests to get them. We had 5 raids, 13 dungeons, 7 new zones, and world quests on all of them. There were pet battle dungeons, and the whole mythic plus system, and secret mounts and pets and toys to discover… there was so much to do! And it was all incredible. So choosing only 3 favourite things is really hard, guys, just know that.

Shameless plug, but a couple of weeks ago I was a guest on Rolling Restart with Rho, and we talked a lot about the amazing things Legion gave us. It was a really fun show! You can check it out right here.

But I must stick to the topic, and choose 3 favourites. So, this is what I’ve come up with.

Cutting Edge Argus

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This is easily one of my highest rated moments in game. Cutting Edge kills usually are for me, because we invest so much time and energy in to getting these kills. We work our butts off and argue and cry and get frustrated, but we keep trying. Cutting Edge, for me, has always been about overcoming all of that to succeed. To kick butt. To feel accomplished. Doing that with a ridiculous and hilarious bunch of people fills me with joy, and makes me super sappy. (For what it’s worth, I re-watched that kill video again just now and it still makes me tear up. Such a good feeling!)

Cinematics

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Without a doubt, a huge highlight for me in Legion has been the cinematics that were so effortlessly weaved into so much of the game, from creating new characters, to levelling in each zone, and taking down raid bosses. The cinematics did such a wonderful job of pulling together all of the pieces of story in the expansion, helping us all make sense of what was happening.

I found this fantastic video on YouTube that shows all of the cinematics in Legion, from beginning to end. All up it’s nearly an hour long – how incredible is that?!?! Really puts it all in to perspective. And also reminds me of just how many times I’ve cried my eyes out in this expansion, holy moly!

Uuna

I’m going to preface this by saying that there were SO many NPCs and stories and side stories that I got attached to in Legion. Runas the Shamed in Azsuna, Ysera’s demise in Val’sharah,  Thalyssra in Suarmar and Mayla Highmountain in… well, Highmountain. All of them were so beautifully portrayed in this expansion, and made it such a wonderful story to play through. So in a way, this section is for all of those characters.

But really, one did stand out a lot. Uuna. I know I have written about her before, but this little quest line really was such a highlight for me.

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I loved that this wasn’t compulsory- that it wasn’t part of the main story. Though in a way, it really was. She was just one of the countless victims of the Legion. A tragically sweet and innocent victim at that. And so we go on a completely heartbreaking journey to save her from never ending darkness. Oh my gosh, it really is just so, so beautiful. I’m so glad I was able to save her. And I can’t wait to take her on my next adventure.

Part 2 – what I am most looking forward to in Battle for Azeroth

This is always a tough topic. New expansions hold so much promise. We know there’s going to be a whole bunch of new content coming. This pre-expansion content and story has already ripped our hearts out and caused so much divide in the community (not just Alliance vs Horde, either!) There’s so much to look forward to! Here are a couple of my favourite things…

Leading ladies

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Like everyone else, I have been living for the Warbringer series. Seeing the stories behind these kick ass women has been so wonderfully heartbreaking. I’m terrified, but I have faith that Blizzard are going to do these ladies justice by having amazing stories for them in Battle for Azeroth. And I can’t wait to experience it!

New Allied races – now with curves!

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I am absolutely with Ann here– I simply cannot wait to see the Kul’Tiran race – these ladies have curves! They got booty!

We don’t know what classes the Kul’Tiran can be yet, although it does look like they will be able to be druids given all the druid forms that have been datamined. I am really hoping they can be shaman. Firstly, so few of the allied races can be shaman at all, which is really frustrating. But more than that, I WANT TO BE KUL’TIRAN! I’ve never considered race changing from my pandaren. I love her dearly, and always will. But the Kul’Tiran… they’ve got something going on that just really sits so well with me. Maybe I will change my mind once I’ve played through the story in BfA… but for the time being, I would just love to be a kick-ass Kul’Tiran restoration shaman. *fingers crossed*

New raids

This one really goes without saying, doesn’t it? I’ve been so restless these past few weeks as the expansion has come to a close and raiding has ended. I miss it so much. I miss the challenge and the learning and fighting and tantrums. lol I cannot wait to see what Blizz has in store for us in raids in BfA!

 

So that’s my list! Do you agree? Check out what other people have put on their lists over on the main post at https://zandcindersblogchallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/topic-36-farewell-to-legion/.

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I really love a new pre-patch. There’s something about it that makes me feel like I’ve got a clean slate. It’s a new beginning which means new opportunities to kick butt in game and have new adventures.

It’s also an opportunity to have a bit of a spring clean and a makeover, which is exactly what I’ve done. I’ve not changed a lot on my website. Most of the things I did were to prepare my raiding killshots pages for Battle for Azeroth and archive the Legion ones. I also changed some pictures and some slight changes to the landing page. The biggest difference, though, is my new site logo!

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website

Back when I became a twitch affiliate I needed to get some sub emotes designed. Of course I immediately thought of the incredible Sirius, and commissioned her to make some totem emotes (which are absolutely ADORABLE by the way!!) I loved them so much that when it came time to spruce up my blog a bit, I decided to use them here, too. (and you guys should absolutely check out Sirius’ art on her website over at https://supersirius.net)

The biggest changes, though, were on my twitch stream.I’d been wanting a change for a little while, and the launch of Battle for Azeroth’s pre-patch was as good an excuse as any.

I found a neat theme that I liked that was also highly customisable called Stonefire from Nerd or Die. I just love it. (Helped that it was super decently priced, too!!) I made the theme a deep blue to show my Alliance allegiance.

Obviously it looks better when it’s live because it’s all animated, but you get the idea 🙂

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been busy with over the past week or so. That and, of course, getting used to all the class changes. As of writing this, there’s just over 3 weeks to go until Battle for Azeroth launches for real!!! I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!

xo

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
– Emily Dickinson

I’ve had this poem swimming around in my head ever since I read the latest official Warcraft novel, ‘Before the Storm’ by Christie Golden. Every time I think about the book, I keep thinking about hope, and what it means to lose it. And what becomes of the person who does.

~*~*~SPOILER ALERT for ‘Before the Storm’ and some Legion-end specific content.~*~*~

before_the_storm_coverIt was the latest episode of the Rolling Restart podcast during which Rho and Ben Bumhoffer talked about their opinions on the book that I got to thinking about my own thoughts and where I thought it was all going. (Side note: Rolling Restart is one of my favourite podcasts, by the way. Comes out every fortnight, and Rho gets some awesome people on to talk about random things.)  And it was during that podcast that I realised I had ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ in my head since finishing the book.

For me, ‘hope’ was such a prevalent theme throughout the book: Sylvanas’ hope for the future of her people, the forsaken, and Anduin’s undying hope for peace between the factions are the two first obvious instances. But it went so much deeper than that. Magni’s hope that Azeroth herself would survive; Grizzek and Sappronetta’s hope for each other… everyone’s hope that Azeroth might survive, and the people living upon its earth would see out their days in peace.

Isn’t it hope that keep us going each day? That gives us a reason to wake up in the morning and go about our day? Hope that, if things are not good, they will get better; or if things are well, they stay that way? I feel like every part of this book played with the notion of hope; what it means to have it, and what happens to those who lose it.

And I suppose that’s why I keep coming back to this poem.

Anduin

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One of the criticisms I have seen of the book has been the character of Anduin and his relentless pursuit of peace. As if peace is a weakness, a youthful innocence that is not becoming of a king, and something to be ashamed of. As if wanting to be good and happy and kind, and wanting that for others, are character flaws. They are not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. How strong must your heart be to believe everyone is capable and worthy of happiness? How sturdy your soul to know peace is possible? And how brave must you be to feel all of this, when your own heart has just been broken in the most horrific way. The fact that Anduin is still capable of love and compassion and hope after everything he has been through (not just the recent obliteration of his father) is a testament to his resilience as a human being.

There’s a nobility in being able to see past the darkness around you to give light to others. And it’s for this reason I believe Anduin is one of the strongest people in the Warcraft universe. But it is also for this reason that I am terrified for him.

Until now, Anduin has embodied the theme of the poem- his hope is deep inside him, and it sings, sings, sings. But it’s this line that troubles me:

And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird

‘Sore must be the storm’. In a very literal way, we know a storm is coming because the book is quite literally called Before the Storm. We also know a storm is coming because it’s what triggers events in Battle for Azeroth. But what else will it trigger? Will Anduin’s little bird of hope be ‘abashed’? Or worse, silenced?

There were so many times that I cried during the reading of this book. I felt like my heart kept getting broken over and over again. Most of the time it was because it seemed like Anduin was being repeatedly punished for his hope. I cried as he publicly said goodbye to his father, and then as his servent, Wyll, passed away, and especially so when he watched in horror as the hopes of his people were destroyed and their family members murdered. Each betrayal would be enough for most people to crumble. But he just.kept.going. And still, at the end of the book, there his hope is, singing away.

But what if what is to come is too much? What if it’s the last that his hope can take? What becomes of someone like that? Well, I think they start to become like my other favourite character…

Sylvanas

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I am not saying Sylvanas is without hope. Far from it. In some ways she is almost just as hopeful as Anduin. Maybe even more. Because if you want to talk about a survivor, Sylvanas is the Queen of them. There are few people in Azeroth who have been through and seen what Sylvanas has. She has literally been born and reborn and reborn again, and that changes a person. (Quite literally in Sylvanas’ case). Sylvanas could never have become the Queen she is today if she were without hope.

But Sylvanas has a different kind of hope. To go back to the bird analogy, I think Sylvanas’ hope is a screeching bird- Loud. Constant. Desperate. It’s a bird that’s weathered the storm.

One of the things Ben said in the Rolling Restart podcast was about Sylvanas being protective of her people. Almost like a mother. It’s a great thought, because what is more fierce, more determined, than a mama bear protecting her family? It’s this protective nature that seems to drive so many of Sylvanas’ actions. She wants only to keep her people safe. The difference with her hope, though, is the way she strives to achieve this. That desperate bird calling inside her is why she takes such drastic, and sometimes cruel actions to do what she believes is right for her people.

In a way it even explains why she was such a cold-hearted bitch to her own people as they prepared to meet their still-living family members. She wants to help them, to let them ‘live’ forever. To give them a future better than the extended rot they face. She knows that if her peoples’ families reject them, they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives… and she doesn’t want that for them. She is desperate to protect them from their own hope. The trouble will be if she becomes desperate for them to love her… but that’s another topic for another day.

When we talk about criticisms of Before the Storm, most of them are around how Sylvanas is portrayed in the book, as being another villain; another Garrosh to defeat at the end of Battle for Azeroth. I find it disappointing that people are not looking deeper than this… but again perhaps another topic for another day. Suffice to say, if people believe Sylvanas to be so one-dimensional, they are missing some of the most interesting parts of her character. We need to remember- she’s not human. Her reasoning is different. Her motivations are different. Her hope…

It’s Sylvanas’ hope for her peoples’ future that makes me believe that it’s entirely possible for her to talk away from them so that they may be lead by the new ‘undead-but-in-a-pretty-way’ Calia Menethil. I don’t know how this would happen, but I believe it’s possible. I believe Sylvanas could sacrifice herself, knowing her people could be taken care of by Calia, who is now one of them.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and Calia’s situation will be the final straw for Sylvanas, and will tip her over the edge of being protective, and becoming all out vindictive instead. (An Undead divided, even?)

Regardless of what is to come, what Before the Storm did for me was show me just how much Sylvanas loves her people, and how her hope for them and their future is what motivates her. And even though I don’t agree with her methods, even though I cried my heart out as she had her own people murdered… I understand. Her hope still screams.

After Before the Storm

I feel like I could write about this book for days. How I became an emotional wreck reading it. How I loved the interracial relationship, and how I held my breath as they fought to survive. How I felt like I was being punched in the gut over and over again.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’m going to read it again. Because I really, really enjoyed this book. But most of all… most of all I felt proud of my King, I felt a better understanding of the Banshee Queen and I am full of hope that Battle for Azeroth is going to rip my heart out again with an amazing story.

 

I’ve been wanting to do something for my guild for quite some time. Sure, we’ve only been together (in this form) since the end of Tomb of Sargeras (so since around November/December last year? And to be fair, I’ve been raiding with some of them for the whole of Legion. ), but in that time I’ve grown so fond of my guildies. And I wanted to say thank you.

Thing is, the past few months have been a bit rubbish. Well, truth be told, the past year hasn’t been the greatest (work situations are just the worst for making you feel crap!) and raiding with these folks has been one of the few things that has kept me sane (that, and of course, Thor). Raiding with Realm is something I look forward to each week. I love these guys to bits. Even when we yell at each other. Even when we’re apes (ok, maybe especially when we’re apes). When we’re killing bosses together, or playing hide and seek in Dalaran, or fudging our way through mythic+ dungeons & bgs… it’s all just been so much fun. Pulling together and getting our Cutting Edge on mythic Argus the other week really was the icing on the cake of what was already an amazing expansion.

So I’ve been wracking my brains for what to do. And for the longest time I knew precisely what I wanted to do. But… well, I don’t have the talent to do it. (I maaaaaaayy have re-written the lyrics to ‘Part of your World’ from The Little Mermaid to tell the story of someone who wants to raid with us 😀 But I can’t sing for shit!) So I was back to square one.

Then the other day, when I was doing my WoW screenshots archiving, it occurred to me that I have a lot of screenshots. (Seriously… a LOT). And I had already been asking guildies for pics of themselves for me… so I decided to make a mosaic of all of us (and a whooooole bunch of pics from Antorus) into a wallpaper using our guild logo.

And so with the help of AndreaMosaic I made this…

Realm mosaic wallpaper V2_4k

UPDATED: added some more raider pics to it cos some people were missing in the first one 🙂 

The original is big enough that you can zoom in and see all the individual pictures pretty well (not perfect, but well enough!). If you want to have a look, check out the fullsize version of the wallpaper here. Here are some snippets:

I know I’m a giant sap, but I’m an older lady now, and I’m very fond of the people that I chose to spend so much time with each week. I just want them to know how appreciative I am that they put up with my cranky moods and my nagging for screen shots and silly wee wee songs and inappropriate jokes (though, I’m the tamest of them all, I swear it!). I am so thankful for these people who have stood up for me and come to my defence when trolls came to my stream; who have become facebook friends and not run away screaming when they see pics of me; who don’t make fun of my terrible kill videos; who are there for a chat in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep; who are just good fun people to be around (even when I’m not).

So Realm – thank you for being amazing. I am so looking forward to kicking ass with you all in Battle for Azeroth. ❤

xo

P.S. Here are some closeups of the guildies who sent me selfies ❤ (All the pics below are in the mosaic)

Well hi there, friends. Today I wanted to take on a little peak behind the curtain, and show you where I am when I’m writing/streaming/talking to you all. It’s take awhile… in fact, it’s take the whole time we’ve lived in this apartment, so about 4 years? But finally – FINALLY I have all my gaming/nerdy paraphernalia together! I’m pretty excited about it.

A few weeks back we finally had the extra cash (and time) to go down to Ikea and buy some more shelves. We then had quite the adventure moving old things out of the study to empty it so that we could build the shelves, and build my new desk, then move Thor’s desk back in (and toss my old one in the tip). Our apartment is quite small, so it’s a really strategic Tetris game at times, moving our furniture around. With things set up in the study, it was then a case of getting all the bits and pieces from the random boxes and shelves around the apartment, and bringing them together to their new home.

And now it’s done! This is my little corner! On the shelves themselves, the top shelf is for all the stuffed Warcraft toys (I’m determined to collect them all!). The tall black thing on the left is a fan… so it has to wear a fun hat hehe. The picture on the wall there is from a scene of one of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who (The Doctor’s Wife), which was written by Neil Gaiman (and also has Matt Smith, who is my favourite Doctor). On the far right of the top part is some beautiful artwork by the amazing Frenone, a token I got from the Australian Legion launch, and a Doomhammer necklace.

First shelf, top left, has more WoW goodies. Draped over the side is the amazing alliance scarf that the beautiful Natanie knitted for me ❤ ❤ Inside are collectables, mostly from Blizzcon boxes. To the right is the Star Wars shelf. To the right of that again is miscellaneous funko pops, including Wonder Woman, Thor, a Weeping Angel and Zoe from Firefly. And to the right of that again are all my theatre programmes (and a Singin’ in the Rain umbrella! <3)

Second row from the top we have my Collector’s Editions (just Mists and Legion so far- Battle for Azeroth will be added soon, though!) plus the 2 of the Chronicles books, and other Warcraft books. Also that long thin box in there- that was a Kris Kringle gift that I god a couple of years ago from a friend at work. Inside is Warcraft cookie cutters!! I haven’t used them yet… I really should.

To the right of that is more miscellaneous stuff, including a Harry Potter letter writing set (including wax seal!!), some of Thor’s Back to the Future collectables, a Doctor Who sonic spork (lol) and some Princess Bride cards. To the right of that is pretty much hidden by my monitors, and mostly contains random bits of nothing, although does have my Firefly – Still Flying book, and agraphic novel about Eminem (it’s freakin’ awesome). There are also two “books” that I wrote when I was in primary school. I’ll show them to you all one day 🙂 Lastly on that row are other stuffed toys, which are guarded by E.T. He’s currently wearing bunny ears… anyway, he talks what you squeeze his hand. He belongs to Thor, and even though we don’t really have room for him, I just can’t bear for him to be thrown away. So we always make room for him.

Lastly above my monitor is a signed print of the Firefly cast, and stuck to that is a pic of the amazing Joss Whedon (yes… I’m a massive Joss fan-girl). On my desk I have a replica Doomhammer, and because I am all about the Alliance, my Blizzcon Alliance coaster, and an Alliance notepad, which I use to make my raiding notes. And of course all my lighting is blue at the moment 😀

So that’s about it for the fun stuff. The rest of the shelves are stuff related to my writing (research books etc.) an old typewriter, and general storage. I’m pretty happy with everything. Under the desk I’ve currently got 4 big boxes full of stationery and shit. I’ve ordered some printed fabric to cover them… will show you when it arrives 🙂 But otherwise, I’m happy with it all.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this peak into real-world Cinder 🙂

xo

What a big weekend! Achievements and mounts and pets – it all happened!

~*~*~*~Note there are some class campaign and class mount story spoilers in this post for Death Knight and Rogue.~*~*~*~

This weekend I managed to tick of a lot of things from my bucket list, and even a few that weren’t there.

First up, my little warrior dinged 110.

WoWScrnShot_041518_183338

She’s still got a long way to go to get through her campaign, but at least for now the “hard” part is done. This just leaves my demon hunter to get to 110, then all classes will be at max level!

After completing the Death Knight campaign last weekend, it was time to get the class mount. I have to agree with the general cohort here and say that the Death Knight campaign is definitely one of the best, if not the best campaigns of all the classes. They nailed the class fantasy with this story. I felt down right evil throughout most of it, and was squirming in my seat when I was being asked to do some pretty wretched things. It was brilliant.

Then yesterday I went off to do the class mount story, and that was also brilliant. I really enjoyed it! It’s down right creepy having the Lich King constantly pushing me to do evil things in my ear… but do them, I must. For the mounts, of course!

I really enjoyed the scenario for this quest, as it took us to a place that we’ve not really been to before (whereas most other mount stories just take us to old world places. Which is great! But this was a nice change). The cinematic at the end was absolutely BRILLIANT. I got some amazing screen shots of my DK in that! The Death Knight stuff really is excellent, so if you’re even a little bit curious about it, level one up and go for it!

 

Today (Sunday) it was my rogue’s turn to complete her mount quest. The Rogue class campaign was ok… the trouble is that I just really don’t like rogues as a class, so the overall experience was tainted for me. Levelling her was so painful because I died a lot, and I just didn’t find it fun. Don’t get me wrong, it was still interesting, but let me put it this way- I didn’t take any screenshots of the campaign at all. That’s how uch fun I didn’t have doing it.

I did, however, take some screenshots of the mount campaign because that was quite good. Although truth be told, felt a little rushed. The basic premise is that we go do a favour for Ravenholdt, and he gives us a mount in return. The quest line really has nothing to do with the mount (whereas most of the other campaigns make the acquisition of the mount a big deal). Still, the quest line had me sneaking in to Horde cities to kill random targets. Which was tough because I don’t pvp, and these were not instances of the capital cities- it was live. So not only did I have to sneak past guards and what not, I had to dodge other players, too. I did alright, though, and got through it relatively well. Which is great, because truth be told, the rogue class mount is right up there on my list of favourites. I absolutely LOVE the raven models. And the fact that there’s four of them makes it even better!

 

It was after getting the first rogue mount that I started looking at my mount count, and adding up how many I had left. With the first raven, it brought me to 294, and the second raven (for having concordance on my outlaw spec) brought me to 295. Only 5 mounts needed to get to 300 for Lord of the Reins achievement and mount. Ok, I can do this! I quickly did a world quest for some Artifact Power to get my Assassination artifact concordance as well. Done – 296. The fourth was subtlety, which I didn’t even have the artifact for. So off I went to unlock the artifact, then went an killed the world boss for enough AP in one go to get concordance rank 2! And that made mount 297.

So then I had a think about which other classes had mounts for specs that I didn’t play. First one that came to mind was paladin – I didn’t have the tank artifact or mount. So off I went to get that artifact. Killed the world boss again and bamn! Concordance and mount for ret paladin done- 298. (I also discovered there are glyphs that allow me to change my Divine Steed ability to use one of the class mounts instead of the racial mount. This was an AWESOME discovery as I really hate the giant elek I run around on mid-fight!)

My next thought was my warlock. The mounts were a little different for this one- the first mount you just get for completing the campaign. The second you can buy with order hall resources, and I’d already done that too. The last mount, however, was a drop from a rare on the Broken Shore. I’d been stopping by each day waiting for him to spawn without any luck. Figured I’d see how I go again today… wouldn’t you know- there was the rare! I killed him and BAMN! Mount 299 acquired! ONE TO GO!

I was thinking and thinking and then I remembered my hunter! I still hadn’t unlocked the Survival artifact, nor its mount. So I went to unlock survival. I did it as BM as much as I could before swapping over. Was a little tricky in some parts, but got it done. Again, went and killed the world boss for 5 mil AP and there it was- mount 300!! Except for some reason it didn’t ding on my hunter. It happened when I swapped over to my paladin instead. Lord of the Reins is finally complete! I really didn’t think I’d get this done for a bit longer yet. But I’m very pleased that I have. 🙂

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LORD OF THE REINS!

Because I was on a roll with everything, I went and unlocked all the artifacts I hadn’t done yet that awarded a toy or pet from Power Ascended. The best one was the Death Knight, as there was an adorable whelping for each spec that I picked up!

All in all it was a very busy but productive weekend. I only have the warrior class campaign and mount campaign to do, as well as finishing off levelling my Demon Hunter to 110 and doing all her campaign and mount quest line. I’m almost there! 😀

By the way, if you’re wanting to find out which classes have bonus pets or toys or have more than one class mount, check out the Class Mounts guide on wowhead.

I’m not very good at saving money in real life, but I’m a little better at it in WoW (mostly because we don’t have to pay rent or anything in game hehe). I’m not the greatest at making gold at all; I don’t have the time or the patience. But I do make enough to support my raiding requirements, and every now and again am able to keep some extra aside.

There’s a world quest on the Broken Shore that Khadgar gives us, to find some Kirin Tor Coins that he’s managed to drop on the ground. When we find one, we get a very short buff that leaves a sparkling rainbow trail behind us when we walk. It’s the most beautiful effect, and have wished for a toy that would give that same buff. Turns out there is one.

The Mad Merchant is a rare NPC spawn in Dalaran, and oh boy does this guy clean out your bank. He only sells 4 items, the cheapest of which is 250,000 gold (yes, a quarter of a million). Thankfully, that cheapest item is the Prismatic Bauble, and it gives that same buff from the world quest, only this time it lasts a little bit longer, and can be used every 2 minutes.

I LOVE IT.

I took my little Void Elf Warlock out for a run in the snow with it- isn’t is beautiful?!

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So now I’m broke again… but I think it’s worth it 😀

xo

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