Adversity Makes You A Better Player: Leveling Without Healing

If you had been sitting in my computer room around January of this year when I was leveling my Jedi Knight, you would have heard the swears flying, and it mostly sounded like this:

Why the fuck don’t we get a healer until Balmorra?  That’s like level 35! It’s not like knights even have the option of healing themselves, ever, no matter how we spec.  And those cheater sith warriors get theirs at like level 16.  How is THAT fair? Stupid Bounty Hunters get their healer before they even leave Hutta.  Fuck you, sith cheaters. (Devolving into incoherent grumbling).

I died.  A lot.

Looks so innocent... swears like a sailor.

Looks so innocent… swears like a sailor.

See, I’ve never leveled a non-healer in any serious fashion because heals are my security blanket.  Even when I was planning to DPS on a character, it had to be a heal-capable toon.  Not surprisingly, my highest level toons in WoW were a priest, druid, and shaman.

My first character in SWTOR was obviously a healer, so I wouldn’t have to worry about healing because I was the one doing it – and my companion could stand in front and I, as a control freak, would take care of the health aspect of it.  I created a scoundrel, a commando, and a sage – but of course I ended up falling in love with my throwaway melee dps alt, the future sentinel, before even leaving Tython.

So I convinced myself, “Self, you can branch out and not play a healer and still have your security blanket because the companion can heal….” not realizing that for the knight, that was a good ways off.  Remember, in the beginning, we barely knew when we got which companion.  Or maybe (probably) I was just an idiot and didn’t know where to look.

I became a better player through not having that security.  Being without a healer (or roflstomping with another player) I had to know very early on where my damn cooldowns were, and you’d better believe that I still use every single one of them. No “Lol, I always forget that I have that!” or “That isn’t even on my bars.”  Fuck, no.  I had to use all my defensive and offensive cooldowns in the mad race to pwn the thing in question before it pwned me.

I also had no room for derp.  By that, I mean I couldn’t eff up my rotation too badly or choose kill order poorly or survive accidentally pulling another group or patrol.  I had to interrupt every bad thing I could, because one missed interrupt could decide the encounter right there.  If I screwed up, I was dead.  Period.  It’s very unforgiving and there’s little wiggle room to recover from bad decisions or sloppy playing.

Now, when it became time to level a dirty imperial, however, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to lean on my guild to help me if I got in over my head with storyline battles, I chose Bounty Hunter in part because we get Mako first.  I’ve pretty much ignored the option of running with any other companion.  And, honestly, I’m a mediocre mercenary, because if (when) I derp up a little, it may take longer to kill the thing, but we usually survive.  And when Mako occasionally falls behind in the healing, I do fumble for what to do.  I don’t have a practiced “finish off quickly even if you burn all your resources” DPS sequence in muscle memory (at least my defensive cooldowns roughly approximate the keys where they are bound on my knight, so I can usually hit those in time.)

Cool bounty hunters walk in slow motion away from explosions.

Cool bounty hunters walk in slow motion away from explosions.

Lately I’ve been playing my gunslinger, that I was hesitant to start specifically because I’d be leveling the whole way up without healing. The healer companion is Guss Tuno from… Hoth, which is way late in the game, but, regardless, I don’t plan to level with him even when I get him.  Based on the class itself and its long cast times and dependence on cover, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a gunslinger to be out front taking the hits while the healer cowers in the background.  Bowdaar dies a lot.  Fortunately, when that happens, I’m usually within a sliver of finishing off the mob.  Better Bowdaar dies and I rez him afterward than I die and we have to start the whole mess over (and indeed, when I’m leveling with a healer companion, I’m out front taking the hits and croak before my companion ever would.)

Hey, Bowdaar, can you try not to die this time?

Hey, buddy, can you try not to die this time?

With any luck, leveling to 50 without any healing will train me to play my gunslinger in a similar manner as I was trained to play my sentinel: interrupt all the things, use your cooldowns, no mistakes.  Throwing off your security blanket is a little daunting, but ultimately rewarding.

Hutts, You Say?

For those of you living under a rock1 SWTOR has announced that we can start preordering the next expansion and I am all over that.  Preordering today, yo.  Not so much because of the early access2 but because I’ll probably forget to do it later, so I might as well just add it and then forget about it.

“But,” some might say, “QQ do not want to pay money, QQ subscribers should get everything for free, QQ want to use my cartel coins…” To that I say SHUT UP.  Mostly because I’m a jerk, but also because… it’s $10 for a full expansion.  There are new levels (fully voiced!) and a new planet.  My friends in WoW also pay a subscription AND pay for each expansion – and it’s a hell of a lot more than $10 to prance around with pandas.

If you weren’t already convinced that you need this expansion, I made an awesome promo poster.  In fact, the art department should hire me right now.


  1. I’m sure it’s a spacious rock…
  2. knowing my luck, it will be during a busy time at work and I won’t be able to login much when it launches anyway

Why Is This Life Day Holiday Different Than Other Holidays?

Yes, I know, I’m borrowing from Passover 4 questions, and that’s in March.  Shut up.

On other holidays we participate in activities. On this one, we um… don’t.  If there’s no in-game event, is it an event? Or a “celebration?”  We can shoot off our fireworks and that’s about it.  Whoop.  I hate to invoke WOW, but where’s my Metzen the fuzzy reindeer – I mean SPACE reindeer?

On other holidays we get presents. On this one we buy presents for ourselves.  Having an option to spend more money on things (cartel coins or credits on the GTN) for ourselves isn’t getting presents.  It’s the difference between holidays-as-a-kid and holidays-as-a-parent and, honestly, I have just about enough of that in real life.

On other holidays we might get content that helps us earn items.  On this one, we buy or grind ourselves items in order to access the content.  Ignoring the whole pay-to-play issue which is being resolved, this is a classic example of the persistent “mobius strip of fail” issue of needing the gear that is dropped in a given raid in order to get in the front door of that very raid.  Rather than doing the new space missions to obtain level 7 gear, you want to have level 7 gear just before you access those missions.  (Darth hater says you can technically do it in level 6 upgrades, but I’m sure that’s only if you have the reflexes of a coked-out ferret.)

There are supposed to be 4 questions so here’s the 4th: REALLY?!  Underwhelmed here.  This “holiday” doesn’t mean much to me if I’m not spending cartel coins or a ton of credits, and I’m probably not.

Do Not Wear This (Ever)

Obviously you guys love your bikinis, but I cannot stress this enough:

There are crotch flaps and butt flaps attached to the top.  They always look stupid!

Observe, this might be marginally acceptable from the front, even though you can see the crotch flap clipping through the skirt.

However, from the back, it’s horrendous.

Why, by the way, would you pair the flashy bikini top with that raggedy skirt (Sandpeople bloodguard from the world event, I think)?

Now, a “how” for you.  HOW do you strap an assault cannon to your back whilst wearing a bikini? “Seasons Greetings” tape like in Die Hard?1  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, fix that.  Seriously.


Upon collaboration with several twitterati, I have decided to start a campaign to “Ban Overused Obnoxious Bikinis” or “BOOB” for short.


C wut he did thar?

Until next time, remember, only you can prevent fashion disasters.

  1. But I decided not to include a picture of the movie scene because, ugh, there is a *lot* of blood.

I Guess I Could Have Been Stubborn And Waited On My HK-51 Ticket

So I got a response on my whole HK problem:

Dear [Me],

Thank you for contacting us regarding your issue with the HK-51 mission, “Assertion: Repairs Required”.

It appears that since submitting your ticket you have successfully completed this mission, and acquired HK-51 as a companion. I am pleased to see that you were able to resolve your issue.

I have forwarded your report to the development team, who will investigate further. I regret that we will be unable to provide you with further updates on this issue, but recommend checking the latest patch notes at for information on any fixes or changes related to this issue.

If you notice any additional errors in the future, I would ask you to please submit a ticket under the Bug Report category, or type /bug in chat, and your information will be forwarded directly to the QA team for investigation. If you require additional assistance beyond reporting the bug (such as an item restoration) please also submit a ticket using a different category, and we will investigate for you.

Thank you again for the valuable feedback you have provided. I apologize for any inconvenience caused by the issue you experienced, and for the delay in responding to your ticket.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again if there is anything further we can help you with.


[REDACTED] Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Customer Service

I mean, this is good customer service, right?  Responds to my problem and everything.  But they must be terribly understaffed!  See, I submitted the original ticket on 12/1, got an unhelpful response right then and submitted my “please escalate” that day.  And today is 12/12.

Because I finished the quest, I feel like I wasted their time.  I wasn’t able to un-submit the ticket because I submitted by e-mail rather than in-game… however, the reason I didn’t submit in game was because it was a response to an existing ticket that was originally submitted in game and that in-game ticket was closed (after being answered in a cursory manner).

I don’t really have thunderous applause or resounding “boos” right now.  I have learned from the response above that I should submit multiple tickets under different categories for the same problem – which admittedly makes no sense to me and seems like it would be annoying to be receiving those, but if that’s what they want, I can do it.  It’s why copy/paste was invented.

Anyway, thanks for reading.  Go download a wallpaper or something.

Hawtpants Goes Prime Time. Maybe. Also, Have Some Wallpaper.

So I’m at the bioware cantina crawl and people are telling me I need to get more blog exposure.

That is Joveth, Eric, and Darth Nihilus. Also, then I realized that a Darth Hater guy was there doing the REAL news-blog thing and I stopped taking pictures and was lazy.

Please, more people, read my drivel!  Here’s what I could be doing to get more attention:

  1. Register with the community team as a fan site (OK, check!)
  2. Do that reddit (swtor subreddit) thing.  I signed up and started answering questions, and I’m actually pretty good at that.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of people who care about looking cool. I even added sharing buttons at the bottom of posts and social sharing links at the very bottom the feed footer so people can share posts on Reddit.
  3. Post on the official forums (now THAT is a hive of scum and villainy. I still haven’t done that.)
  4. Maybe do a developer interview (I’m not sure that I’m the right person for THAT, snicker)
  5. Be a guest on a podcast?  I’m going to file that under “totally do not have the time to block out for that.” (Writing posts can be done in bits, not like a podcast.)
  6. I’m sure collecting underpants was one of the steps.  There is no profit (because I don’t run ads, they are icky)!

I might be getting more readers!  I’m thinking about the cons though:

  1. Trolls are morons
  2. My hosting might explode (since I pay out of pocket AND don’t run ads, I really hope this doesn’t happen.  I can’t afford to be too popular.)
  3. Pressure to actually write something informational (har har)

If you regulars suddenly start to see new faces around here, cool.  If they behave like assholes, feel free to nuke them from orbit.  That’s the only way to be sure.

Now, my first “fan site perk” – a new wallpaper.   Here, you will see  a charming scene of republic and empire putting aside their differences and heading out for a night of drunken debauchery in Nar Shaddaa, culminating with fireworks and watching the ball drop… I mean SPACE-ball drop.

Looks to me that this night will end with some serious violations of the jedi code with that there Zabrak.  If the smuggler dude doesn’t seduce him first.

Companions In Social Gear

As you guys know, companion match isn’t currently working (I don’t think it got fixed in today’s patch either).  Fortunately, the day before that happened, I had switched my companions into social gear sets (more or less) and they match anyway.

Kira is wearing the Voss Mystic outfit (Social 5).  But not the hat because she still has a blue unmodded hat.  I’ll put on the circlet as soon as I can get her a hat with mods.

Doc is sporting the Balmorra outfit (Social 2), on the theory that I found him as a Balmorran resistance fighter.  However, the headgear is very face-covery, so he is wearing the Hutt Cartel goggles (Social 4) which look a whole lot like a heavy armor hat that I have on the sith side for my bounty hunter.

Continue Reading »

I Stop Being Stubborn And Get HK-51

After spending a week being very stubborn about my customer service ticket regarding that last annoying piece of HK, there was an all-guild group going through Maelstrom and I just couldn’t say no to that.  At the end, I was bitching and whining about why the fuck do you put a box inside a box (because REALLY) and my husband says:

“Well that’s your mistake.  Step 1 is obviously to cut a hole in the box.”

/die laughing

If you have to ask, here’s the original Saturday Night Live digital short.  It’s probably slightly NSFW, but it is bleeped.  Really, how unsafe can SNL be?

Is there a loyalty chip in that box or are you just happy to see me?

Home Sweet Ship

Time for the grand tour of my ship.  First, let’s look at my closet. Yes, I have 2 bank tabs devoted to fashion.  Don’t judge.

Unlike the hideous mess that dominates every aspect of my life, in and out of game1, I organize clothes by slot.  It’s unnaturally anal-retentive.

However, I am quite sad that I can’t decorate my ship.  I have decorated as best I can.

He’s reddish and therefore counts as a holiday ornament.

If I drink too much eggnog, I may end up in the medbay. Oh noes! Anything but thaaaat.

  1. My desk looks like the Tasmanian Devil threw up

Customer Service “currently only offer[s] support for class story missions”

This weekend I was on the last component part for the HK quest.  The husband had taken the critter to Home Depot for Xmas lights, and I had uninterrupted game time.  The perfect time to do Maelstrom Prison.  Two kindly guildies who didn’t need it nonetheless offered to go with me.

We got to the end without incident.  I clicked on the box, I squeaaaaled with excitement, and then we bounced off to do the final phase of the HK quest.  My guildies were going to help me, so I high tailed it to Section X…

… only to realize that my quest tracker still claimed I needed the loyalty chip.  Wait, what?  I searched my inventory.  I searched my quest tab.  I searched both multiple times.  Maybe it’s in a BOX that you have to open?  Nope.  It’s not there.

Well, fuck.  This was one of those moments where I feel like crap because not only did I waste my limited uninterrupted gaming time, but I wasted the time of two other guildies!  I decided to put in a ticket.  After all, I wasn’t trying to get something I hadn’t earned.  I had legitimately finished Maelstrom Prison and clicked on the box!  Who the hell knows why the thingy didn’t end up in inventory?


I didn’t know if they would grant my ticket or not.  I figured there was a reasonable chance that they would say something snotty like “one should make sure that one actually has the item before leaving the instance.”  But I did not expect this:


I am Protocol Droid [redacted], Human-Cyborg Relations.

Thank you for contacting us regarding the issue you encountered with your mission.

We are sorry that you have encountered an issue with your mission, however please be advised that we currently only offer support for class story missions.

We would kindly ask you to try the steps outlined below to resolve your issue, if the mission is still in your mission log. Unfortunately if you have abandoned the mission, we cannot provide assistance.

If your mission is located within a story area or flashpoint, please try leaving the phase by either:

• Walking out of the Phased Zone via the Portal Entrance (Green Gate)
• Reset the Phase by right clicking on your portrait and selecting reset phase /reset local phase.
• Using your Quick Travel ability to a Bind Point.
• Using your Emergency Fleet Pass.

You can determine if your character is within a story area or flashpoint as there will be a small gold bar on your screen with a character name on it. If you are on your own, this will display your character’s name. By default this is located near the top center of your screen, if you have modified your UI you may have moved it. If the bar shows a character name which is not your own, please leave the instance and then reset it following the instructions above. Once you have reset the instance, re-enter, ensuring that you are the first person to enter (this will ensure that you are the “owner” of the instance, and your name will appear on the small gold bar).

Please be aware that you will not be able to successfully reset your mission when inside your personal ship or your hangar at a Spaceport, as these are considered story areas.

Once you have left the story area, please open up your Mission Log (you can do this by pressing the mission icon on your main menu bar or by pressing the Mission Log key, [L] by default) and then highlight the mission you need to reset and click on the reset button.

If this does not help fix your mission problem, or the mission is not located within a story phase or flashpoint, please try resetting the mission and then attempting it again.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Galactic Support is our specialty…


Protocol Droid [redacted]

Wait, what?  Ignoring the fact that none of the rote suggestions given had anything to do with, nor would they solve, my current problem, this stands out to me: please be advised that we currently only offer support for class story missions.

Uncool, Bioware, uncool.  This HK mission is the heavily advertised new content, and support will not be provided for it?  Really?

I immediately composed a very simple reply to the email, as I think that nobody wanted or cared to read a long dissertation on my thoughts about WHY a company should provide support for advertised content.

This response is disappointing and I would like you to reconsider.  It is unacceptable to fail to provide support for this quest line. The HK quest is new content which has been heavily advertised.  The majority of players at 50 either have done or will do this quest.

Please escalate this ticket to a supervisor.

Nothing so far on the ticket. This morning I got an email from that was advertising – you guessed it – the HK-51 quest.  I’ll keep you guys posted.  Or I’ll get over being stubborn and just re-do Maelstrom.