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Because Everyone Needs A Good Laugh

Yep, those are two of my guildies all decked out in Columni gear after a good month of raiding. It’s okay, you can laugh at them. We certainly do. Clearly whoever designed this particular set of gear has a thing for bananas. And priests. I should stop there.

(click to get a better view … it’s totally worth it)

I Love My Companions, But Are They Good For Me?

(Quick Update: In honor of the always derptastic philosophy I follow of post first, research shit later, I did find this thread on the SWTOR forums just this morning that has actually been very helpful. Jedi Sage – Balance vs Telekinetic)

First off, let me start by clarifying I am speaking only in relation to ME and MY companions and how they may or may not be affecting MY gameplay. This is not an observation about Bioware, other people and their companions, or companions in general. What I am having an issue with, basically, is me. Allow me to explain.

Quick Background

The Old Republic is only the second MMO I’ve ever played a minute of; World of Warcraft was my first. As a resto druid healer, I had it pretty easy when running content. For one thing, I really only ran causal raids on farm night or alt night. For another, because I just followed along at the back of the pack and mostly stood farther away from the boss than anyone else, I didn’t have to pay as much attention to the raid leader’s instructions about which off-tank should grab what add or where the pools of fire around the boss are that the melee dps need to watch for. All I really needed to know was who was tanking and whether I was going to be healing the tank or healing the raid. Then when the fight started I healed by clicking on Healbot or Vuhdo (I have a history with both). For the most part, I didn’t have to focus a target, I didn’t have to watch for interrupts. Other than a bit of moving with w,a,s,d I didn’t really have to touch the keyboard too much. I have a 5 button mouse and had my healing add-on setup to throw about 10 different spells as long as I used a modifier key.

I’ll be honest, this basically made me lazy. When my friends started advancing towards serious raiding, I let them pass me by because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to contribute the way they would need me to contribute. I felt that way because I knew I had been lazy and I didn’t “know” my class all that well, I just happened to know how to use my mouse to spam wild growth and rejuv. I tried to correct this by rolling a new Worgen druid and leveling her up so that I could pay closer attention to the details. But there was some unfortunate drama going on around that time and I just never put my heart into it after that. Oh woe is me.

So now you know I am a fail WoW player. But I’m in a new game and I can be a new player. I am now determined to be a serious raider and I’ve switched my main role from heals to caster dps. There are no add-ons to lean on and make me lazy. It’s all on me. I HAVE to actually learn my class and know exactly what spell to throw and why I’m throwing it.

My Issue

Here I am in a new game, putting on my serious face and trying my hardest to remain focused and informed. Reading guides, blog posts, forums and any other resource necessary to try and gain some insight into how to play my Jedi Consular to her greatest potential. Unfortunately, information is limited since all of us are equally new. But there is information out there and I’m soaking it all in. Or at least I think I am. I hope I am. I’m reading it, there’s that.

What I’m starting to realize about myself is that having a companion there to tank for me (or heal, as the case may be) isn’t really helping me learn how to maximize my dps. I mean, I am not solely responsible for how a mob dies so how do I know if I’m killing him the most efficient way? Even if I put Qyzen away and have Tharan follow me around to heal me I’m still cheating. I don’t have to be as aware of standing in the fire because Tharan’s there to heal me. And not only is he healing me, he’s also dps’ing with his blaster and he’s got his holowhore dancing in front of the mob and helping me out with a stun. WHAT AM I LEARNING HERE? This is why I said in the intro that the issue is me; because this companion system is pure genius as far as helping you level. And don’t get me started on the crew skills thing. BRILLIANT!

But with no type of combat meter or combat log (which are supposedly coming at some point) I have no way of knowing if I’m doing okay or not. I am not a theorycrafter and in fact, math generally gives me a headache and causes me to lose interest completely, so I usually try to avoid it if at all possible. Not all nerds are math nerds, who knew?

What I do know is that there are fights with elites that I sometimes wipe on 3 or 4 times. And I’m panicked that indicates a problem. To make matters worse, I got so frustrated this weekend with an elite fight that I noticed myself just simply button-mashing by my 3rd attempt. WTF? How am I going to raid with people that I actually care about if I’m a button-masher? I do have a rotation of sorts that I use consistently, though I have no way of knowing if it’s the best rotation. Based on my personal understanding of my spells and talent points, I think it is. But after becoming frustrated with wiping, I apparently threw my rotation right out the window and that’s something I cannot afford to make a habit. Yes, change my rotation if it’s not working. Tweak it and move spells around here and there to improve. But start button-mashing? NOOOOOOOooooooo.

So The Question Is…

The question is: Is having a companion do a chunk of the work for me impacting how effective I will be when raiding? I’m in a guild with experienced raiders who made solid progression in WoW. They aren’t elitist jerks and I’m not scared of them, but that doesn’t mean I expect them to keep me around if I’m not pulling my weight. This is just as serious to me as it is to them.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying companions are bad for the game or detrimental to raiding in any way. I’m not even saying they’re detrimental to me. I’m saying I need to figure out a way to make sure I’m doing all the damage I should be doing. To make matters worse, I’m caught up in the “trying to get to level 50” mentality. Several guildies have passed me in leveling and the ones that haven’t are very close to me AND have alts that are a decent level too. I have to put that aside and concentrate on not letting myself rush through just because I feel competitive. There’s no point in getting to level cap if I’m doing everything wrong while there.

A Possible Solution?

I’ve been thinking (worrying) about this for quite some time and I’ve finally decided it’s time for less thinking and more action. This week I’m going to spend some time backtracking a level or two and attacking some elites without using a companion. If I die I’ll try to switch my rotation up a bit and see what the difference is. It’s a rudimentary way of going about it, but I can’t think of any better solution. If I find that I am able to beat them without too much trouble, I’ll find an elite the next level up and try it again.

I’m curious if anyone else out there has these same type of concerns. I am also more than willing to take advice on how to prevent button-mashing and to learn of any tricks of the trade that will help me find the best rotation for me and maximize my dps. I am currently a level 44 Jedi Consular Sage following the Balance tree. Like an idiot, I am writing this post away from the pc I play SWTOR on and I forgot to capture a screenshot of my current talents. I believe the image below is an accurate recreation though. Just during the process of recreating it online, I can already see where a few points might be wasted. I will definitely be working on resetting my tree this week.

If you’re choosing the Balance tree like I am, let me know how your points compare to mine and why you chose them. I would also love to know what rotation you generally use so I can see how it compares to mine. I am open to criticism. I need to get this right. I realize I need to play my character according to my style and what I’m comfortable with; I don’t want someone to hand me a cookie-cutter build and do all the work for me. But I welcome any feedback.

Adventures In Helmets

I am not someone who you will find worrying about fashion too much in my everyday life. In fact, I pretty much wear jeans, a sports oriented t-shirt (KC Chiefs, Nike, etc.) and some tennis shoes. Although I am currently rocking some pretty cool tennis shoe fashion because I recently got my hands on some vintage 1962 Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. They were my uncles when he played basketball in high school and I found them covered in cobwebs in my grandparents garage over the Christmas holiday. He passed away 13 years ago so there’s some obvious sentimental value there. Making the story even cooler is the fact that my uncle was paralyzed when a tornado struck his military base in Fort Rucker, Alabama the year before I was born. The man was in a wheelchair my whole life and I never got to see him walk. Now I’m walking around in shoes he played high school basketball in. Crazy.

But as cool as that story is, it has nothing to do with Star Wars: The Old Republic. So let’s move on. I may have no real sense of fashion for how I dress myself, but when it comes to my favorite characters in a video game I can get pretty worked up about how they look and what they wear. And while every game I’ve ever played has their fair share of ugly ass clothes, they have also always included some really cool looking stuff. Except for helmets. Helmets are always ugly and SWTOR is no different. Especially if you’re a Jedi Consular. Omg, it’s ridiculous.

During the lead up to the game launching, all of the Jedi Consular’s I saw online and in released trailers were wearing this weird thing on their head that looked like a kitchen curtain and a nun’s habit had spent a drunken weekend in the back alley’s of Nar Shaddaa. I hated it instantly and swore I’d never wear it on my Consular. Imagine my disappointment when a guildie sent me one in-game and I wore it for a few levels because I didn’t have another orange helmet at the time. For the record, this is called the Force Perception Headgear.

Obviously I had chosen the option to hide my helm so that it wouldn’t display. Actually, I had set that option way back in the lower levels when I got my first helmet and it looked like a cantaloupe had been carved out and turned upside down on my head. Since I didn’t want to spend large amounts of money just to buy one off the Global Trade Network that looked better, I was hoping I could get some helm drops from questing. Unfortunately, I did. These are both green quality items, so I immediately sold them.

I got the Mindak Norris Hat:

And then I got the Calla Designs Senator’s Cap, which looks even worse from the back:

Yes, I realize that thanks to the handy “do not display helmet” feature, none of this really matters. But it’s the principle of the thing. I guess we’re the Jedi version of a priest, but do we have to be decked out like one all the time? I’m not even specced for healing, so why do I have to look like that? Finally, it bugged me too much and I did start searching the Global Trade Network for some new headgear. I spotted the Omenbringer’s Headgear for about $8000 (I think) and it’s an orange moddable piece, so I snagged it right up and have been wearing it proudly ever since. Is it perfect and beautiful? No. But it’s decent and a hell of a lot better than my previous ones.