Articles on science issues, creative writing pieces, and some game related stuff.

My Culture Sculpture

September 14th, 2012 | Posted by Getsu in Personal - (4 Comments)

This is going to be a personal post about one of my experiences going through RA training in my dorm and some thoughts I had on the experience. 

About two weeks ago while was going through training to be an RA in my dorm, I went through multiple activities that were rather bland. Most of the training was terribly boring and I simply sat in one room after another while people talked at me about a plethora of ways in which college students endanger themselves. During one of these sessions, a rather animated faculty member of my school’s residential life program, who I will refer to as Mr. I,  began telling us a story about his family. The story itself was rather touching, but the activity that came afterwards is what I want to talk about.

Once his story was over, Mr. I asked us to take some pipe cleaners that we would be using for a “Culture Sculpture”. He explained that he’d be asking us a question and he wanted us to make a shape of any sort for each question. Once all our questions were finished he wanted us to connect the small sculptures in some way and think of how all our individual answers also connected to each other. For some reason, this very simple activity had a profound effect on me and it’s been sitting in my mind since we went through it. After thinking about it for quite a while, I want to share what each of his questions were and my responses.

Where are you from?

The first question seemed rather simple, but he said that he didn’t want our answer to be geographic. He wanted us to try to explain our background and where we felt that our personality and the person that we are has come from.

Despite his explanation, my first thought on this question was the physical aspects of home I remember. That did lead me into my first little “sculpture” though. I made what I pictured as rows of crops in a field. To me this presents two answers to the question.
Firstly, I come from farm workers and field hands. As far back as I know, my family has worked fields to grow produce. At one point, the fields they worked were family owned fields that surrounded huge portions of cities. As time went on, my family lost most of its land and that changed entirely. In recent generations, my family has moved around a lot and eventually immigrated to this country to find work. Predictably they ended up working in fields  as it was one of the only things that they had ever done.
The “sculpture” of rows of crops also represents something else to me though. I come from the seed of hope and wanting a new chance at life. The many green fields I see around my home represent new life to me, and in some way I am a part of that. My parents collected their things and came here hoping to find more fertile land than they had to settle in. My siblings and I are the fruit of their labor.

Who are you thankful for?

Again, Mr. I wanted us to think past the obvious. He wanted us to realize that we may not have to like who were thankful for. The main point here was that he wanted us to think about someone who had helped us shape our lives and really be honest about what that person meant to us.

I took this question to heart and decided that the people I am most thankful for in this world are my parents. When I was younger my answer would have definitely been much different because I could never see eye to eye with either of my parents. They were very traditionally Mexican and expected me to grow up with the exact same views as they had. My mother was always caring and tried to let my siblings and I choose for ourselves, but she was also quick to let me know when I was doing things in a way she didn’t approve of. On the other hand, my father was always very clear that we were expected to be like him. I got beat multiple times through my childhood for everything from telling him that I did not want to be very religious to making it clear that I would rather go to school than work with him.
Despite all that, I appreciate with every fiber of my being that my parents worked to the bone for me. I am where I am today because of how they raised me and because of the opportunities they gave me. I know I may not be exactly the son they wanted sometimes, but one of the reasons I work so hard is because I want to make them proud. If I can show them that all their hard work payed off, I can say that I’ve had a good life.

What do you want to unlearn?

This question is slightly more complicated than the others and required accepting that there is something wrong with with the things I know. As it was explained, everyone has biases and knows of stereotypes that they take for granted. Sometimes it may not even be anything as strong as a full out stereotype that is held against a group of people. The way Mr. I explained it, his example was that of growing up with his mother having dinner on the table when his father came home. He realized that he shouldn’t necessarily expect that situation of his spouse.


Thinking this question through was very rough for me because I had to admit that there was an issue with what I thought.
To give some back story:  I grew up in a very heavily Hispanic community. My whole life I focused on school because it was the only thing that I thought I was really good at. That led to me being one of the “smart” kids before I came to college. Being “smart” in turn led to me being alienated from people my age because many of them couldn’t even properly speak English. At first I tried to spend my time helping my peers so that I wouldn’t feel like such an outsider, but after failing at that I took to the culture that had raised me to focus on school. I very much considered myself to be American and viewed Hispanics in a very negative light. I thought of most Hispanics as either intellectually lazy or incapable. I hated being considered Mexican and that the color of my skin made me different from the people I wanted to be like. This led to a lot of identity issues for me and just plain hatred of who I was. I was ashamed of my culture, my heritage, and my family.

I want to shed the negative opinions of the culture that raised me. I am who I am because of everything that was around me as a child, a huge part of that being Hispanic culture and people. I don’t want to be ashamed of who I am and feel like a lesser person just because my skin is brown instead of white. I think that a lot of what I’ve learned at college is that accepting people is important, whether they be different because of the color of their skin or their sexuality. All people are different in some way and some be thought of as equals. For me that means that instead of trying to shed my culture, I want to learn more about it and be proud of the fact that I come from a different background than most of the people I know. I want to accept my roots and accept that they have helped to make me into the person I am.

What is one thing that you love about yourself?

This one was kind of straightforward and didn’t really get much more explanation. He just told us that we should be honest with ourselves and admit if there’s something that we really enjoy about the person we are.


I think that the thing I love most about myself is that my personality is very fluid and all encompassing. I tend to reach very odd extremes with everything from my personality to my hobbies. I think a big example for me of this is that I am a competitive raider in World of Warcraft and a Varsity swimmer for my college. To a lot of people, doing both of those things just seems incredibly odd. I think that it’s a way to keep my life balanced and centered around all the things that I surrounded myself with. I don’t want to just give up on any part of my life, and I’m glad that I have a personality that fits into all the different things that I enjoy.

A glimpse at a bigger picture


Questions for you

Where are you from?
Who are you thankful for?
What would you like to unlearn?
What do you love about yourself?

If anyone would like to give their own responses to these questions, I would love to read them. They don’t have to be as personal as mine either, I’d appreciate any amount of sharing. If anyone would like to build a Culture Sculpture to go with them, I would love to see it.

Regardless of whether you want to answer the questions or not, thank you for taking the time to read this post.  These thoughts have just been floating around in my head for a while, so I’m glad that I was able to share them somehow.

First of all, I want to apologize for not writing anything for the past two weeks. I was traveling from home to school and then went through RA training. It was definitely a fun experience and I’m glad to be back at school, but I had NO free time whatsoever. Days blended into each other and just kind of dragged on… But anyways…

As anyone who has been playing recently is aware, the Pre-MoP expansion dropped on Tuesday. With it came many of the changes that are a part of the Mists of Pandaria expansion such as account wide mounts (which by the way is the coolest thing that has happened in a long time). It also brought on the talent revamps that are a part of MoP and that bring sweeping changes to every class. The changes specific to Holy Paladins for this patch are outlined in my guide, so I’m not going to go into specifics here. I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about my take on the patch and then how it seems to have affected Holy Paladin healing.

General 5.0.4 Thoughts

I personally think that this is one of the best patches that has been released as long as I’ve been playing (Which for reference is late BC). The patch brought with it so many features that I found to be very interesting and fun.

As I stated already, account wide mounts and achievements are two of the best things ever implemented. EVER. I may be extremely biased because I switched mains and had all my fancy mounts and titles on my druid, but I have a lot of friends who feel the same way. It is really just awesome to have my rare mounts and titles available to me across all my characters. My level 20 characters have their choice of fancy mounts instead of running around on their basic racial mounts or Tyrael’s Charger. Consolidated achievements also did a lot for me since I had quite a few scattered achievements on all my characters. I think my druid (who formerly had most of my achievement points) jumped almost 1000 points just from me logging onto all my characters. I know it may not be that big of a deal to people who don’t like to play alts, but this is my favorite change that was brought by the patch.

I think that another huge thing for me was the talent revamp that changed up so many classes drastically. I haven’t had too much of a change to play because of my training, but the time that I have been able to play has been spent exploring all of my alts. Every class that I enjoyed playing seems to have changed

I raided on my druid through H DS on Wednesday and to my surprise was near the top of the damage for most of the fights. Balance has been changed up so much and given quite a few different mechanics that may not have changed general gameplay much, but that gave the class a serious single target damage boost. It was also fun to have some cooldowns to watch on a spec that never really had anything going on except the Eclipse rotation. I also got a chance to  set up my PvP gear and do a chain of BGs. I have to say, the mobility, survivability, and control mechanics that we got are amazing. I can literally kite any melee class until I can kill them off. It’s feels great to not have to sit and cast at someone to get into Eclipse as well. In general I’m going to say Balance is a success after this patch.

I’ve played through a few of my other characters, but since those are still leveling their way up to cap I don’t think there’s anything too important to say there. Warlocks and Hunters are definitely fun and play well at lower levels. I think that Priests area also very interesting, but I was mostly healing 5 mans so I didn’t get a decent look at questing on that character.

Holy Paladin Healing in 5.0.4

On Thursday I got the chance to get into H DS and heal through it. Before raid I went through and switched my gearing to try to get as much Spirit as possible. This meant gemming Ember for my Meta gem, straight Spirit in Prismatic and Blue sockets, Int/Spirit in Red sockets and Int/Mastery in Yellow sockets (to keep socket bonuses and Meta active). I also already ran with Heartsong, so I kept that the same. As far as trinkets go, I was running with Heart of the Unliving and the Jaws of Defeat for the sake of regen. I ended up using a feast (Int) and and Int flask because I forgot to get the Spirit versions of each before raid. With all this added up, in combat my regen was just about 5.2k mana per 5.

My spec changed a lot throughout the night. I ran with Speed of Light, Unbreakable Spirit, and Fist of Justice all night, but I switch around a lot for the other tiers. I tried to give SS/EF and HA/SW/DP each a decent amount of testing time to see how they worked for me. I will discuss in a bit how exactly I felt about each of them. As for my glyphs, I ran with Flash of Light, Divinity, and Light of Dawn on most fights. I did switch in Beacon of Light for Spine, but other than that I kept those three Glyphs the entire raid.

As for the raid, I think I should state what our plan for the night was as it sets some perspective. Our healers were myself and Fumsy (a Resto Druid), and our tanks were a Guardian Druid and a Protection Paladin. We two healed every fight except for Spine, which we also used a Discipline Priest for. We ran the raid on Heroic mode with the 35% debuff active.

Morchok: The fight seemed to be just about the same as it had been. Fumsy and I each healed a side with 5 people per side. We each had to soak shards, so there was a bit of running around. I found it a little hard to keep up at the beginning, but once I got a hang of healing the instance with my new abilities I had no issue keeping my side up. I felt like I could have done a better job with cooldowns here, but I was a little overwhelmed by new abilities and a new UI to really keep up with cooldowns that I really didn’t need.

Yorsaj: Also worked out just as it always had. During Purple phases Fumsy and I would each take a group to avoid stacking the debuff unnecessarily and my Beacon heals kept up the tank without me having to actually toss her a direct heal. I definitely loved using the my new cooldowns during the non-Purple phases on this fight. Holy Avenger’s burst healing is insane for AoE and when used with Jaws didn’t burn much mana at all. I also enjoyed trying to weave HRs between my DLs during GoAK. That mechanic is definitely one of the more interesting additions to our toolbox.

Zonozz: This fight was a little more difficult than I remember. Our strategy was to have two groups, a ranged and a melee group, to bounce the orb. Damage ramped up rather quickly here and I found myself having to pop cooldowns before Black phase to heal through the tank damage. It was a little surprising, but Black phases seemed to actually be easier than they were before. That may have just been due to our dps killing all the adds very quickly, but for the two Black phases I popped cooldowns out of habit and not really necessity.

Hagara: I was a bit surprised by this fight. I actually let the tank die when Fumsy was in an Ice tomb. The Focused Assault mechanic was doing more damage than I remember, so I was really surprised when it hit the tank so damn hard. Other than that it felt just like it usually does. We stacked in the center for Frost, and with a cooldown the damage was very manageable. I popped my Devotion Aura for Lightning Phase and that damage didn’t seem to bad either. The thing I do remember here is that I was specced into DP for this fight and felt a little underwhelmed by its procs. It procced very rarely for me, although when it did proc I seemed to get strings of procs all at once.

Ultraxion: We two healed so that fight felt a lot easier than it used to be. Between Fumsy and myself there wasn’t any difficulty in healing through the damage that was going out. We also managed to kill it before the Blue buff came out though, so that may contribute to the damage feeling so light. This fight definitely made me realize that I can’t spam HR anymore though. It made me HR>HS for a majority of the AoE ticks so that I didn’t feel strained on mana. Again, DP seemed to proc very poorly on this fight. It seems very unrealiable to me and I don’t like how it seems to happen in strings and not spread out over a fight.

Blackhorn: This fight also posed more of a challenge than I expected. The first phase wasn’t too bad as far as damage went, and it gave me a very good opportunity to make use of Fist of Justice. At times the fire got very out of hand, but the damage felt very limited even when it did. The second phase of the fight is what really ramped up the damage output. We didn’t have very many cooldowns that could help mitigate the Shout damage for the raid, and to me it seemed like the tanks were getting hit much worse than they ever did before. On this fight I also went back to Holy Avenger and the burst that it provided was amazing after Gariona’s attacks.


All in all I feel like Holy Paladins are in a very good place. My mana felt a little strained, but I was able to make it through every fight without going OOM. I also feel like all of our abilities have a place in our toolbox and a definite place that they can be used. I personally feel that we have a bright future ahead of us come MoP and all the opportunities that it will provide to test our class.

I know I’m a little late to talk about this, but I think it’s a really big issue and I want to share my thoughts on the topic.

For anyone who may not know this yet, Mists of Pandaria will be released with no raids available. The first raid, Mogu’shan Vaults, will open up the second week of the expansion. The other two raids included in Tier 14 will be opening up four weeks later.

This has been a hot topic of discussion for the past few weeks among anyone interested in raiding. Some see it as Blizzard imposing gating once more as it did in ICC, while others see it as Blizzard telling raiders that it’s okay to take the leveling process slowly.

What this means

Without trying to add any of my thoughts to this, it simply means that there won’t be as much of a rush to hit level  cap for those interested in getting into raids. Where in past expansion raiders had to race to level cap, then grind 5-Man dungeons for gear as fast as possible, all of those players now have a week to do all of that. It will still be a little rushed, especially for anyone who wants to have as much gear as possible for the first raid lockout, but it definitely helps all of the players interested in raiding.

To any raider who plays casually but is interested in the progression race, this is an amazing thing for Blizzard to do. Not all raiders interested in the progression race have the ability to play constantly on release. Since the expansion is coming in mid September, most people will be working or back in school. Most people also don’t have the ability to take a vacation from work for the sake of the game. These are all the people that will gain from this change.

Blizzard Imposing Limitations

As with any big change that Blizzard makes, many people have come out as very opposed to this change. A lot of people are saying that Blizzard is artificially controlling progression. The last time that something like this was done was with ICC where Blizzard released bosses by wings, only releasing a set of 3 or four bosses at a time. To make that worse, they also added in limited attempts for every raid lockout to slow down progression even further. This was a very poor way of slowing down progression and ended up being more of a headache for the top guilds, because they went as far as having a raid of alts to practice content with before attempting it on their mains.

Blizzard may have been seeking to make the content longer lived because it would be the main content for so long, but most of the top end raiders felt there were lulls with the gating when they could have been working on later wings. They wanted to, and were able to continue progressing, but were forced to sit on their hands while bosses that were ready were left in the waiting.

This is far from what was done then though.

The Pros 

First of all, this seems to be more aimed at the people who cannot play as much yet want to raid. It evens the playing ground for the progression race so that most people will start at the same time. The first tier of past expansions has included to races. The first was the race to max level and to get the best gear that was possible right out of the gate. As soon as a guild could get a raid together, the next step would be to get into raids as quickly as possible. Raiders in the more “hardcore” progression guilds almost had to take breaks from their real lives to be able to stay competitive at the beginning of an expansion.

I think the second big pro to the gating that is going to happen is that the instances are going to be released separately. In total, counting Heroic modes, there are over 30 bosses in Tier 14. I think that trying to tackle all of that at once would lead to many raiders getting burnt out. Without the staggered releases, raiders would have had to max level cap, max reputations, raid LFR, and max Valor weekly all while raiding through three instances ever single week. With this staggering, it cuts down the entry to the tier dramatically, and it also makes it so that at some point the progression oriented raiders can cut Mogu’Shan Vaults entirely from their schedule.

I personally think that this change is amazing and appreciate that Blizzard is leveling the raiding race. I will still be playing a lot at release, but I wont feel forced into doing quite as much right from the get go.

I’d like to ask what others think about the staggered raids. Do you think this is a good change for the raiding scene? Or is Blizzard once again imposing limits on its player base?


This past week my guild decided to run Blackwing Descent on the Beta realms to get some experience on the changes coming in Mists. This gave me a pretty good opportunity to test out the healing on Beta with a group of players that I feel comfortable with.
Before I get into talking about how healing felt, keep in mind that this was on Beta and many of us, myself included, were playing without many of the add ons that were used to. I know I personally didn’t realize that I didn’t have Seal of Insight up until part way through Magmaw.  Since this was all done at level 85,  you wont see use of any of the level 90 talents or 86+ abilities. For reference, we all limited ourselves to a 372 item level because of the greens at that level that were available in the Valley of the Four Winds.

Here is the log for anyone who wants to look it over.

Mana Regen

One of the main things I was interested going into this raid was how my mana felt throughout the duration of the run. I was also very interested in testing out the Glyph of Illumination.

I read this post (Also where I got the graph, so credit for it goes to Joe Ego) over on Leveling Holy which broke down mana regen with and without the glyph.

Comparison done with 8 Shocks per minute and 35% crit.

He also does a really good job of breaking down regen in general, so I’d advise you to read his whole post if you’re interested in what our regen will look like come MoP.

Since I was level 85 for my test of the glyph, the spirit values he uses are far out of reach. I was running with 2,400 Spirit and 39%  Holy Shock Crit which would produce different outputs.

Throughout every boss fight my mana regen felt very good. I never felt like I was running low and was able to cast more expensive spells when necessary. That said, I did try to avoid casting the expensive spells where ever I could. Looking through the logs, I only use Divine Light on Atramedes and Chimaeron and I didn’t cast Flash of Light once throughout the run. In retrospect, I probably should have casted those spells more to purposely push my mana, but I didn’t think of it during the run.

My feeling of comfort in regen may have been due to not casting these expensive spells because they weren’t needed, but I can’t be sure of that. I think that the gear we went with was far too high level, even without my using enchants or gem sockets, for the content we were doing. We will be running Firelands on Beta this week though, so I will come back to the topic of regen after that.


For this run I stuck to using Eternal Flame, Unbreakable Spirit, and Holy Avenger. I didn’t make much use of Unbreakable Spirit or Holy Avenger though, as the need for cooldowns didn’t come up much at all.

As far as Eternal Flame (EF) goes, I was very impressed with this spell. It was my second strongest source of healing behind Illuminated Healing for every boss except Atramedes. This leaves it as my strongest casted heal for all of those fights, and likely the biggest source of Illuminated Healing and Beacon procs. I didn’t have a timer for it either, so it may have fallen off entirely at times or gotten overwritten prematurely which would both cut down on its healing. Any fight that included a decent amount of tank damage made great use of this spell. While on certain fights I found myself having to decide between Light of Dawn or EF, I never felt constricted into picking one over the other. I tried my best to keep EF up on the tank I didn’t have Beaconed and then use Holy Power as needed, and I felt very comfortable with the use of Holy Power I had.

As much as I thought Sacred Shield would be the go to talent in this tier, EF is an extremely strong spell.
There are situations where I see it falling behind though: any fight with a large amount of AoE damage or more group damage than tank damage is going to call for casting more LoD and will leave little room for EF. I already think that H Will of the Emperor, the last boss in the Mogu’shan Vaults, is going to be one of these fights. I may be wrong, but I simply don’t see how I will be able to spend Holy Power on a single target heal for a fight I know is going to have intense raid damage.

I also think that Sacred Shield will become much stronger as the expansion progresses due to its huge scaling. I know that I’m hoping this is the case as I don’t want to have a talent tier with a definitive choice no matter what the circumstance.


This run was very much meant to be more for playing with our new toys and having fun than for serious testing of the mechanics. I think that I got some good experience with how things will work out, but we also out geared the content we were doing so the feel was far from what it will be during current content progression. Based on this test, I am very excited for Mists though. Holy seems like it’s in a very good place and every raid I participate in only helps to solidify that view.

If anyone has questions on any mechanics or abilities, leave a question in the comments and I will do my best to test and discuss the mechanics.

This is going to be a kind of long personal post where I want to talk about a little bit of self discovery. 

After reading a combination of Ambermist’s personal post on big life changes (in and out of game) and Tzufit’s post on how players have changed through Wrath and Cata, a few thoughts that have been on my mind for a while surfaced. I’ve wanted to make a response to Ambermist’s earlier post which challenged bloggers to talk about themselves a little, but I hadn’t realized what I wanted to say until I read those her own personal piece and Tzufit’s.

I mentioned in my introduction post that I am a college student going into my second year. This is my first summer break coming home from school, and looking back a year I don’t even feel like I’m the same person. Between talking to my family and  friends, I know that I’ve changed more than I could have ever imagined.
A big part of it is physical: I’ve lost a lot of weight and because of it have begun to dress in a much different way. I’m comfortable walking around in more than just baggy t-shirts and jeans. I’ve started to enjoy going clothes shopping. It’s not because I absolutely love clothes, but because to me being able to wear tighter clothing without thinking that I look fat is a huge confidence boost. It makes me feel a lot better about myself, but my appearance isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

My first Semester of college: Learning to let go

Last summer, as I prepared to leave home for school, I felt that I was confident in everything I wanted to do. At the time I a few months into my first relationship and enjoying my two favorite hobbies. My hobbies were so great to me because I had two groups of people that were like family to me: my swim team and my raid team. Every morning and afternoon I’d go swim, every night I’d play WoW, and every other ounce of free time I got went to my girlfriend. I was extremely happy with everything and excited for school. I figured school would be four years to continue the same activities, but none of it lasted more than a semester.

One by one the three staples of my life began to crumble away. When I realized just how much work school, raiding, keeping a long distance relationship, and swimming for a college team would be, I realized I had to let go of something. I quit raiding within my first three weeks. It was hard for me, but I told myself it was for the best. I had to prioritize my life and make sure that I did what I had to. Video games weren’t as important as everything else, so I stopped playing thinking that everything would get better.

Despite my initial loss to time, I realized that I would have to give up more of what I thought made me who I was. My new team quickly became another family for me. I loved spending time with them, in and out of the pool. They were all amazing people that made the transition to school so much easier, but they were competing for time with my relationship. I didn’t know how to handle the situation. This was the first relationship I’d ever had, and I thought that it was right to give her as much time as I could. Eventually I felt the need to pick between her and swimming. I picked her, and I was left with nothing in my life but school and my relationship.

The next few months became sharing my time between my relationship and school. If I wasn’t in class or studying, I was talking to her. I didn’t spend much time with my friends because I felt the need to spend all my time keeping up my relationship. If I strayed from that, I ended up in a situation where I had to ask for forgiveness for putting other people above the relationship. It was extremely unhealthy, I realize that now, but at the time I was too afraid to move away from it. It was the only remnant of my life before school that I had, and I wanted so dearly to hold onto it. Without it I wouldn’t know who I was, I’d have nothing to be passionate about. My first semester of college ended on that note: I felt trapped in a vortex where I couldn’t feel anything but the single tie to my past life through this relationship.

I was scared. I was extremely scared to lose that tie to what I thought was me. I tried so hard to hold on to it. Yet as I fought to keep it, I slowly realized that what I held onto as a lifeline was actually dragging me down, so I cut it.
It wasn’t quick. It was drawn out and painful. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much over a single person ever before, but once it was over I felt that I could breathe again.

My second semester: Getting out there

My second semester of college was full of so much freedom. I spent time with people who’d previously been strangers living upstairs. I made more friends in the matter of a month that I had all through high school. I spent most afternoons trying out new things that I’d never imagined myself doing. Although I also picked up raiding again somewhere in my second semester, I made time to go out and talk to all of the amazing people living around me. I was thrown completely out of my comfort zone, but I was truly happy for the first time in months.

One of the most personally surprising things that I did was pick up dancing. I joined the ballroom club on a, “Why not?” whim, but it became one of the things I did because I loved it more and more every time. I wont lie: it helped my interest that I got to meet some beautiful women, but that wasn’t what kept me coming back. It felt amazing to get past my awkwardness and dance with some amazing people. The leaders of the club who taught the lessons were all extremely nice and funny. They were quirky and lovable in a way that made me feel at home while completely questioning my presence on a dance floor at the same time. Getting new moves down gave me confidence that I really needed at the time, and having a small group of friends to dance with every few nights gave me something to look forward to.

In the same manner, Quidditch gave me something to be passionate about. I went out three days a week to practice and work out, but it wasn’t as serious as swimming had been. Everyone on the team was insane in their own personal way (I mean, they all run around on brooms). Practices weren’t all about becoming better, they were also extremely fun and surprising. Some practices were entirely meant to be fun, which had never happened with swimming. I found myself going out to have fun, but still found someone to push my competitive nature to work out. Between the senior who I had personal running competitions with and the crazy antics that the team thought up, I couldn’t help but feel that the team was a perfect place for me.

Between Quidditch and dance, I gained enough confidence and joy to be able to grow. I moved past feeling like I had to establish my happiness. I was certainly happy, and I finally started to take in the broad environment of experiences that my school had to offer.

I think that the biggest thing that came from that freedom and happiness was finally being able to spend time with new people and get to know them all. I met people who came from entirely different backgrounds than I did. It was astounding how many different experiences people had, and I loved hearing about what it was like for others growing up. There were international students and people from all corners of the US, and all of their different opinions helped me grow to accept a plethora of different views and opinions.

Reminiscing on my first year

This is me, after that first year of school

I was unsure as to whether I wanted to put a picture of myself up or not, but I think after all that talking about myself it’s warranted to do so.

Now that I’m home and I’ve been able to think about it all, I’m glad that things happened the way they did. It sucks to have lost so much and gone through so much pain at the beginning, but I think that everything was worth it. I’m happy again, but now there’s more than just happiness. I have a broader understanding of life, and I understand that things will change. I know I’m still young and that everything I’m slowly learning may seem like teen angst, but I guess dealing with this is a part of getting to be that adult that I will be some day.
As of now, I’m just excited to experience it all.

The newest Beta Patch has brought a huge amount of changes to Holy Paladins, both large and small, that carry quite a few playstyle changes with them. I was going to wait until I could get on Beta to test the changes, but I’ve been having issues with the download and thought (I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post. My updated Beta hasn’t finished downloading so I haven’t had a chance to get any pretty pictures to share.)

Here are the changes for Paladins and the link to the full post of changes on MMO:



  • Divine Purpose now has a 20% chance to proc, down from 15%.
  • Eternal Flame was reworked: Consumes up to 3 Holy Power to place a protective Holy flame on a friendly target, which heals them for (4,260 + 37.7% of SP) and an additional (1,393 + 16.0% of SP) every 3 sec for 30 sec. Healing increased per charge Holy Power. Replaces Word of Glory.
  • Execution Sentence healing reduced by 10%.
  • Hand of Purity now has a 40 yd range, up from 30.
  • Holy Prism now costs 5.4% of Base Mana, down from 6%. Healing and damage reduced by 10%.
  • Sacred Shield no longer has a mana cost. Now has a 6 sec cooldown.



  • Sword of Light Increases the damage you deal with two-handed melee weapons by 20%, down from 25%.

Major Glyphs


Healing Nerfs and 10% Cast Speed

The main change that I noticed was the slight healing and mana cost decreases that were made to all of our healing spells. These combined with the 10% cast speed bonus that was added to Seal of Insight seem to have been aimed at giving us a quality of life change. The amout of heal per second and amount of heal per mana seem to be just about the same as they were before the changes, but now our cast times are faster. This fixes the issue of long cast times that many people on forums were complaining about. It theoretically should leave us right where we were though. The nerfs are not meant to bring down our healing, so don’t run to the hills fearing the falling sky.

Divine Favor

In case that doesn’t make it clear enough… We now have Divine Favor back on Beta. It works the exact same way that it does on live, although the glyph to increase its duration is gone. Apparently Blizzard’s intent with removing this had been to have less cooldowns for us so that we didn’t spend so much time worrying about them, but they have given it back to us. As far as I can tell this is just a straight buff. The nerfs to our (Non-Talent) spells seem to have been balanced around the buff to Seal of Insight, so this seems to be a lone change. I personally thought that the Seal of Insight buff was their response to casting speed issues and that Divine Favor would be left out altogether, but now that we have it back I hope that there are no more nerfs incurred because of it.
This change also leaves us in a place where, assuming that you take the Holy Avenger talent, we have 3 short cooldown and 2 long cooldown throughput abilities to use.

Talents and Playstyle

A common complaint that I’ve seen on forums recently has been an issue (that should have been fixed with this beta patch) that made Selfless Healer (SH) and using Judgement on cooldown mandatory. People on both sides of this issue seemed to think that playstyle should support what they wanted. These are the two main arguments that I saw regarding Judging and supporting points:

  • Certain people argued that Judging effectively has been a part of the Holy Paladin playstyle for so long that it shouldn’t be removed. It added an amount of skill that was necessary to be a good Holy Paladin. If you weren’t good enough to be able to balance Judging with Healing, then you didn’t deserve to do as well as the players who could effectively Judge and heal. With the removal of this, Holy has become a much simpler and the skill cap for it has been lowered significantly.
  • Others argued that Selfless Healer being stronger than the other options made Holy into a very cooldown obsessed class. Assuming that we HAVE to take SH, we would have to work around two short cooldown spells, Holy Shock and Judgement, to build resources for our healing spells. In this manner we’d run into the same issue that Resto druids were having on the Beta where we simply have so much to keep track of that we run the possibility of not being able to use our other spells. This situation would also leave us in a very bad place if we were balanced around having those instant free heals through resource building, and then found ourselves in a situation where we did not have the free global cooldowns to use Judgement.

I think that there is a lot of merit to both of these thoughts, but I want to once again remind people that the talents are supposed to allow choice in playstyle. With this patch, Blizzard made it clear that they want to make sure the talents are even in viability. Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield have both been buffed, while Selfless Healer had a nerf through the loss of the Ascetic Crusader glyph which made Judgement a free to cast spell.

I think that all of the talents are just about even now, but there is still a playstyle and situational choice that comes into choosing which spell you want to use. If you  have the time, and interestest, to use judgement, then SH is a clear choice that will serve as a mana conservation ability. On a fight with strict tank damage, you may want to take Eternal Flame to keep a HoT running on each tank. If you don’t have the time to Judge or the ability to spend Holy Power on a single target heal, using Sacred Shield may be the best option.

What I want to make clear here, is that each talent is going to have it’s niche. Each talent is going to seem completely amazing in some situations and rather silly in others. As far as I’ve seen, Blizzard has done an amazing job at making sure that we are going to be utilizing their talents without falling into the rut of “best.” If you played Diablo at all, expect these talents to work just like the abilities in that game. You may be switching constantly, and in my opinion that only means that Blizzard managed to do exactly what they envisioned.

Its done! This video is done! I spent the better part of my Saturday doing it, but I managed to get a video together that I am pretty happy about. It’s nothing extremely fancy, but I talked about what I wanted to discuss in video form! I apologize if I am abusing exclamation marks, but I’m just really happy that this came together!

I don’t really have much experience with videos and things like this, so if you notice that I made a mistake could you please comment and leave me some advice on how to make better videos in the future? I’d really appreciate it!

Now then, I want to get serious for a bit and just write up what I talk about in the video.

I’ve said a few times that Holy Prism is very interesting and that it’s definitely earned its place as my favorite of the level 90 Paladin talents, but I think I need to talk about why a little bit more. Most importantly, the spell gives you the option to use it as a single target heal or an AoE heal. Along with the amount of choice that the spell presents, it gives us the ability to heal and do some damage at the same time. Whether you’re using it as a single target heal or an AoE heal, it will have damage paired with it.

Light’s Hammer also has that ability to do healing and damage simultaneously, but it is strictly an AoE spell. The fact that it doesn’t have that same choice attached to it makes me prefer Holy Prism, but this spell still fills the same role.

The reason that I think that these spells, with healing and damage attached on one spell, are important is because they allow us to do damage without hindering our healing. In a tight situation, you can still use these spells and help with damage without the risk of letting someone die. While it may not seem extremely important to be able to do damage as a healer, I think that in challenge modes we will be expected to be able to do damage and keep the group alive.

Challenge modes present an interesting way of playing where everyone is being pushed to their limits to be able to make the Gold time standards. In this situation, a healer who can also do some damage is going to be worth much more than one who can’t. This allows for Holy Prism and Light’s Hammer to shine if used properly. These spells are going to be great during normal gameplay, but I think that if mastered they will proved to be invaluable in the Challenge Mode setting.

So this is extremely basic and all I had to do was string together Fraps footage I got from Beta, but it’s the first video I’ve ever made and uploaded. I’m getting a very odd sense of accomplishment from this video despite the fact that I messed up the only thing I really had to do by making the intro screen (which was just text) too long. I’m working on another video that I want to put up this weekend, and I promise that video will have much more work put into it!

I worked on fixing videos all weekend to add to this post, but unfortunately I’m not very good with editing. I decided to give up on the video and just put this up without one. I’ll work on the editing skills and add some videos after today, but for now I just want to talk about raids on the Beta.

Raid testing opened up last week and Blizzard has been testing bosses every few days. After doing most of the raid testing I can say that I’m really happy with where paladins are on Beta. I’ve heard quite a few complaints, some of which I share, but I don’t think that the class is in as bad a place as so many people seem to think.  I will say that Monks are obviously in a far better place than all the other healers, but Ghostcrawler has stated that they will be fixed at some point. He also stated that everyone else is about where they should be. This should be taken as people to understand that the sky isn’t falling and we aren’t going to be bad compared to the other healers. Yes, there are issues, but they will get fixed.

The Good

Our toolbox is very varied and has a lot of strong tools to make use of. I found myself changing my talents a lot once I got a feel for the fights because certain talents were much more suited to the encounters than others. Light’s Prism is definitely a winner in the new talent system and I think will find a lot of use for AoE healing in MoP. I did switch other talents sometimes on every new fight. There is no longer a cookie cutter spec or “right” choice as far as talents go. When I healed with another Holy Paladin he was using almost entirely different talents. The choice with talents does come down to what you personally feel is best, and that makes the game so much more interesting.

Single target healing is still just as strong as it has been. Holy Light is usually enough for damage on individual targets, but Divine Light and Flask of Light still find a lot of use when the damage calls for it. On top of that, Holy Shock and Light’s Prism make for very strong spells that I find myself relying on to conserve mana where I can. Our strong single target combined with Beacon also keeps us as the strongest where damage is limited to only a few people.

Speaking of Beacon, the spell is amazing in AoE situations. Since it now transfers heals from both Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn, Beacon transfers a huge amount of healing during AoE phases. I never found myself having to toss a heal directly at the tank if I was casting Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn. The synergy between all of our spells is absolutely amazing and makes for a very fluid healing style that easily goes from single target to multi target, but there are definitely things that feel clunky and need some work.

The Bad

I’ve heard it in a few places and raiding has made it all too clear that our mana regen is not very strong. Even casting just a few of our hard hitting spells leaves our mana pool gasping for breath. I have been very conscious of my mana and tried to go with as much spirit as possible, but I still feel that our regen is very constricting on our heals. I am forced to stay away from Holy Radiance for the most part and to use Divine Light and Flash of Light very sparingly.

The issue with longevity also leads me to think that Holy Power isn’t building as quickly as it could be. Even with the limit raised to 5, in heavy AoE damage situations I find myself casting to build more Holy Power for more Light of Dawns and not really caring about the spells I cast to get there. Its also very clunky that Word of Glory isn’t worth the Holy Power because the Beacon transfers from Light of Dawn far outdo WoG. I hope that Light of Dawn doesn’t get nerfed because of this, but it is clear that our Holy Power system needs some work.

Our AoE healing isn’t as strong as I first though it was. Holy Radiance was buffed slightly, but it’s not strong enough for heavy AoE. To make that worse, it cant be used consecutively for fear of running out of mana very quickly. Although Light of Dawn was made to be much more powerful that it is on live, it’s not constantly available. These two issues make AoE healing quite a strain on either the groups survivability or our longevity.

Final Thoughts

I think that as of now the class seems to be well off. The mana issue isn’t as bad as many people make it out to be, but it is very limiting when damage gets out of hand. Again, I don’t think any of the issues we have are signs that the world is ending as we know it. There are still changes that can be made if it is seen that we aren’t where we should be for any reason.

This post is going to be very personal and include some spoilers on an MoP quest. If you don’t want to read that kind of thing, I’m finishing up a post talking about my experience with the raids on Beta so far that I will probably put up on Saturday.

I want to start by saying that the past week has been stressful in a few ways for me. I recently found out that my grandmother is very sick and may be passing away soon. I also found out that a friend of mine has been told his cancer has gotten out of hand. Needless to say, death has been on my mind.

When it really got me down to think about both of these people in my life too much, I took to the Beta to do a few quests and try to distract myself. Most of the quests seemed like the same old gather this or kill this. I didn’t think much of a set of quests that had me getting some revenge for a village that had been destroyed. It’s normal for the game to include a lot of death and destruction, after all it is World of Warcraft. When I finished the set I found a very surprising quest called “A Funeral.”

The Pandaren quest giver wanted to hold a funeral for all those in the village that had passed away. Instead of brushing their deaths under the carpet and making it seem like your murder of their murderers made everything perfect, he made it clear that those who had died should be honored. This in itself was odd, but the quest giver then gave a speech at the graveyard that completely hit me off guard.

You see, what you have done is a tribute to the truthe we Pandaren hold most dear. None of us approaches our death with joy – but neither should we feel feer, nor anger, nor doubt. Though we may die, from our passing blossoms new life. This is the truth that we live, work, and die for. Do you see? From their graves, trees grow. May these trees always stand for the sacrifice they made, and the honor you have done them.

I can’t believe that a game gave me advice on how to deal with death, but it told me what I needed to hear. At a time when I was too upset about the thought of death to really think about anything else, this game told me to cheer up. It may just be a fictional character, but he was able to make me feel better nonetheless.

I think that sometimes I forget that this game is creating its own world. As cartoony or silly as it may seem at times, the game has some very serious moments. The game does come full circle to touch on the serious aspects of life that it includes. While I think that many people may just take those as another quest, for me they are very powerful moments that make the game seem alive.

If anyone would like to share, I’d love to hear about serious moments or life lessons in the game that others have found.