Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sara's First Cosplay: Annie Headband

I've recently gotten back into playing League of Legends, playing all sorts of champs. But of course, Annie is my favourite.  She's just so delightful and evil and I love stunning nerds so my ADC can stomp their faces.

I do love her outfits - all her skins are so cute and, in my opinion, surprisingly cosplay-able.  I do love her classic in-game skin, but I decided to make the headband as featured in her splash art:

Annie's official NA League of Legends splash art
Now, just to put this all into context.  I have never in my life "cosplayed" anything.  I have dressed up at Halloween, and for various rugby events (Togas were very popular).  I do think of myself as crafty but not particularly skilled at it.  So this is sort of a stab in the dark in terms of my skill at making something wearable.

I started with a trip to the craft store.  My first mistake.  I should have started with a plan! I should have looked up things about making ears on headbands.  Oh well, you know what they say - YOLO.

Here's what I picked up at Midocco Art Supplies and Dollarama:

2 sheets of magenta card stock
1 sheet of magenta felt
1 sheet of light pink felt
Fabric glue
1 sheet light pink foam (I didn't end up using this, it was my alternate to the inner ear felt)
1 roll of magenta ribbon
2 junky plastic headbands.

I also used Binder Clips.

I had this idea in my head, and I think it was correct, that felt wouldn't stand up on it's own and needed some card stock to keep it upright.

I started by freehand sketching (in pencil!) the shape of the ears in the above picture onto the card stock.

I cut one out, and used it as a stencil for the second one.  Don't worry about the pencil marks, these are going to be covered with felt.  I left a bit of extra card at the bottom so I would have something to stick onto the headband, like little feet.

I used these card stock ears to stencil ear shapes onto the felt.  I used a marker because I'm bad! Fabric chalk would have been best here, but alas I had none.  I rationalized this with "cut inside the marker!" yeah right.  Use chalk.

When I cut them out they still had the black marker edges on them - I tried to trim it off but it was a mess.

They ended up looking reasonable when I cut them out.  I started putting the ears together first, thinking I'd worry about attaching them later.  I made loads of mistakes.  The bottoms are straight across/flat.  Heads and headbands aren't flat.  Oops.

I used the larger magenta ear stencil and freehanded the smaller inner ear part to cut out of the light pink felt.

Again, I used black marker! What is wrong with me, I'll never know.  These parts I was mostly able to keep all pink and trim off the black after I'd cut them out.

So I had all my parts for the ears and started gluing them together using Aleene's Fabric Glue.  I loved this stuff, it did exactly what I wanted - glued porous fabric to other stuff.  It says wait 24 to dry but I found it was perfectly dry in about 8 hours.  Waiting for glue to dry sucks.

Once I had all the ear parts together, I started working on the headband part.

I couldn't find a magenta cloth-covered headband, which is what I pictured.  No, of course, I went to the dollar store so all they had was this gem to your left. So ugly and not easy to glue stuff to!  So I decided to cover it in magenta ribbon.  This turned out to be a good thought, and I looked up a tutorial on how to do that successfully and it was pretty easy.  Started with making the ends ribbon covered, and just wrapped from there.  Super easy.

With the headband done and the ears all ready to go, it came time to attach the ears.  I made lots of mistakes here.  I didn't measure once, ever.  Big mistake.  So of course, the ears are crooked and too close together.  Don't do what Sara does.

This part I did do correctly - making the little feet out of the paper inside the felt.  This made it SUPER easy to glue these ears onto the headband, even though they weren't curved.  They are also super sturdy and stuck on quite well.  

 I used a healthy amount of glue and then left them to dry with binder clips attached: 

So then I though to myself - I don't want the shiny ribbon on the outside of the headband, her headband isn't shiny at all! So I cut out a strip of the leftover felt, cut two slits in it to fit the ears in, to place over the headband.  The strip looks like I was drunk when I was cutting it out, so again, measure twice cut once, unlike me.
It actually worked out okay, other than the edges looking extremely rough. 
I left lots of extra so I could tuck and glue and trim it to make it at least look a little presentable.

Again, I used the fabric glue and the binder clips to make sure it dried in place.

The ears ended up not exactly how I wanted, but I think they are pretty okay for my first (blind) attempt at making a cosplay prop.  Notably, the ears are too tall and pointy. But they are fun to wear, they are sturdy, cute, and comfortable. Oh and I had fun making them, except for waiting for the glue to dry.

These, in total, cost me about $11 and I got everything I needed at 1 craft store and a dollar store.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Back to my Roots

In July 2012, I wrote this post about changing my role in raids. Looking back, I'm glad I made the decision I did.

I was a main tank for my guild all through Mists of Pandaria. It was fun, challenging and I accomplished a lot. I tanked challenge modes and got the gear to prove it. I made the calls for the Stone Guard in Mogu'Shan Vaults. I tanked Rik'kal. I kited the meteor into Heroic Garrosh. I loved tanking with my boyfriend and I'll never forget that experience.

A few weeks after killing Heroic Garrosh, I took a break from raiding entirely. Close to 600 attempts on a boss really takes a toll on your mental state. I was sick of my guild and I hated the game. Eventually I came back, got my scorpion mount on one of the last kills we ever did and kept playing.

I wish I could say I was still tanking for my guild, but a number of factors caused me to make another role change. *

First, I changed classes at the beginning of Warlords. I chose to level my paladin tank, and leave my druid behind. I was tired of not seeing my transmog, or toy effects and I wanted to try something new.

It went well. I tanked Highmaul and Mythic BRF with a warrior and another paladin tank. I don't feel as comfortable with my paladin. It's not easy to explain because druid tanking came naturally, while paladin tanking is work. Paladin tanking for me is constant vigilance. If I slip up, I die. If I use a cooldown at the wrong time, I take more damage than I should. If I'm tired? Forget it. I could tank on my druid with one hand. With my paladin, my hand is gripped so tight on my mouse that I have physical pain in my thumb after a night of progression.

It may sound like I don't enjoy paladin tanking - I do! But the style is very different from my druid and I don't think it suits me.

Second, there were things I started to notice after a while that started small but chipped away at me. My suggestions or observations were often ignored on voice chat but then repeated by another and considered. My statements were interpreted as questions. If I mentioned a mechanic, people would jump to explain it to me. The tanks were continually asked to pull faster, to move the raid along through easy pulls for a faster night. I tried, for a while. When I told the raid I was pulling trash, I was met with silence. When the other tanks announced it, people answered. So I stopped talking. If I had a suggestion, I asked others to relay it. I stopped trying to lead.

It's puzzling, and frustrating how someone else can slip into your role so easily. I felt like I had to claw and scrape my way in, to prove to myself and everyone else that I was good enough. I'm still terrified of screwing up somehow, and when I first started tanking it was like having a giant weight above me. I do think I'm a good tank, and I do think I'm capable but I'm tired of being talked over, or ignored. I'm tired of feeling small.

A miserable part of me thinks that maybe people just don't care to hear me on voice chat. Or that they tuned me out. Sure, sometimes I can be loud but in my role as a main tank, I need to be heard. Another part of me thinks that the loss of the other lady tank hurt more than I thought.

I started dreading logging on to tank and I hated feeling that way. I was constantly reminding myself that it's just a few hours and then the raid will be over. I volunteered to sit more often, or I asked to DPS - though, admittedly I'm not very good at it.

I feel like I let myself down and I hate it. I feel like I should keep tanking to prove a point, but I don't need to prove myself to anyone but me. I need to play the game for me, again.

To bring this all around, I stopped tanking for my mythic group as of February this year. Instead, I swapped back to my druid to heal. Before I did this, I was healing on my druid with another guild on off nights and it was easily the most fun I have had all expansion. Partly due to the atmosphere (more laid back, but still gets the job done) and the role I play. Healing (like druid tanking) is a natural thing for me. It's comfortable, it's easy and it's familiar. I follow the tanks and the raid and I keep them alive.

Things got very stressful and I was going into raids upset and continuing to be upset for the night. We lost people I care very much about to new guilds and real life. The atmosphere became hostile (as it does when content becomes stale and progression isn't happening fast). In addition to some poor communication about raid plans and goals that exacerbated my feelings, I decided that raiding for three hours until midnight EST for three nights a week was no longer for me. As of May 2015 I ceased all mythic raiding with Apotheosis.

This brings us to right now where I'm healing full-time for Business Time on Moonrunner doing heroic modes. Admittedly, I already miss mythic raiding but taking it easy on heroic isn't a bad thing for me. Now we're starting Hellfire Citadel and the first foray into the new content was an absolute blast. I'm really enjoying the encounters we've seen so far (I actually squealed out loud when Kromok pulls the weird creeping ooze from the different coloured pools).

I'm going to play Warcraft a little more casually and it feels weird to say. I don't think I've ever been casual about WoW until this year. I'm looking forward to maybe just fooling around and seeing the world again and playing on my own time.

* If you're interested, I was a guest on TankCast and spoke with other women regarding tanking in WoD!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Paragone to Hell in a Handbasket - Tanking Heroic Paragons

Congratulations on making it this far in Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar! While many of the fights have had more damage or different mechanics added, Heroic Paragons of the Klaxxi is on a whole new level. With the Klaxxi, any normal mode mechanics that didn't matter REALLY MATTER now. Those parasite casts you didn't notice? Hell, you better notice them now. Aim? Really hurts. Rapid Fire? Also bad. Korven? You better tank swap if you weren't before! The list goes on.

When my raid group was looking for tips on how to kill this boss, we couldn't find a lot of information. There was very little out there and of what we found, 1/4 of it was tank related. We ended up having to trial and error our way through much of the encounter (as tanks). It's my goal here to provide that missing link for future tanks who end up tanking this encounter. I'll provide links at the bottom to the various strats we attempted as we used more than one (and there is certainly more than one way to kill this boss). This post assumes you've already killed normal paragons, and if you're looking for a guide check out my previous post!

Let's get started!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Going Back to Cali: BlizzCon Edition

It's hard to believe it's already been two weeks since we were all gearing up for the excitement that is BlizzCon. I was wiling the hours away at work, checking the Meeting Stone forums and official site for something - anything! - to distract me from what I was doing. Now I'm grasping at straws for a way to get back to that feeling of shared happiness and belonging that I felt in Anaheim. I think that's the best thing about BlizzCon, it's unlike any other convention because everyone who came to this event is passionate about Blizzard games. You can have conversations with complete strangers about WoW/SC/Diablo and not get a confused look back. There were so many people to talk to and meet that when you come back there's this sort of... recovery time or recharge period, because suddenly you're at home not surrounded by thousands and thousands of people. Now that I've decompressed, I wanted to record my experiences and share them with all of you!

Our trip began on Wednesday. I took the day off so that I could pack and get things sorted out with the people who were going to babysit my kitties. I picked up my friend Sara (@SerrinneWoW) in the afternoon and she and I waited for my boyfriend Brian (@Chronis_) to be finished at work before we left. We drove out and picked up another guildmate, Andy (@Slout_ET) before we really started the drive to Buffalo. Let me tell you, if you need to get across the border quickly bring Chronis. I don't know if it's that Cape Bretoner charm or what but he didn't have his passport signed and we still got through the border in under two minutes.

It was so dark so we didn't see much of the scenery (although, it's Buffalo so we probably didn't miss much), but we got to our hotel safely and decided to get some dinner. We ate at this hot dog place called Ted's Hot Dogs because a) DONGERS and b) they have gluten free buns! They even changed gloves while handling my food so that was a welcome relief.

With our bellies full and the realization that we were so close, we all hit the hay and dreamed BlizzCon dreams.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Live and Die in LA - Sara's First Blizzcon

To be honest, my brain is sort of a blur about what specifically happened at Blizzcon!  This post will mainly be about who I met (the most important and best part of the con) and then some game impressions.

Your Power Word: What?! bloggers ready to fly!

What is nice to know is that relationships in life aren't different on the game or twitter - those ARE our relationships.  I am going to try and restrain myself from going into detail about the anticipation, excitement, and happiness I felt meeting someone I've sort of fallen for over the last few months, but I will say that meeting everyone was really just awesome.  I certainly won't be able to list everyone here, I seriously met like 9847509 people (and I didn't even get a chance to see everyone I wanted to see.)

Meeting the guild was of course totally great.  Many of us have hung out before (Toronto, and visitors to Toronto) but meeting Sheepeater, Srs, Jack, Shawnelle, Sturm, Kristin, and the rest was great! We were pretty much just like we are in game - tease Sara mercilessly and party hard!  I actually felt really proud seeing us all in the shirts that Kal and Chronis made for us.  It was awesome to have a crew there to watch panels with and sit around with and joke with.  It was nice to be able to relax and not worry about guild stuff or officer stuff or raiding.

Our extremely good looking guild.

The sensation of normalcy was really vivid for me -I think I've talked to some people about how I really like day to day minutiae, routines, and the like.  There was a moment where I was in my hotel room with Sheepeater and Grumdy getting ready to go to a panel or something, and they were just sitting around talking about games and I was standing in front of the mirror putting on make up and chatting with them and it just felt so NORMAL, it really made me smile.

Me and Mr. Jack Lalanne

Meeting almost all of the <Something Wicked> attendees was also a highlight - I have spent a lot of time in game with these folks, in mumble, on twitter, etc. I talk to Esoth just about every day, and he has become one of my very best friends so meeting up (finally, it feels like!) was great - we were the dorks we always are.  He even brought me home brewed mead!

Meeting some EJ folks like Dysmorphia, my swole sister, seeing Hamlet and Perculia again (every moment away from them is hell, have I mentioned that? they are best kind) and other Twitter folks like Kerriodos and Theck, my bun brother, and Antigen and Rhidach and Tass was just so great - putting a face to the names, it was just wonderful to feel like totally not out of place, and nothing was different.  It was time to talk about bunnies and tanking and games and all manner of thing - just like it always is.  BUT getting to hug people like Arielle (and a few other Inc Bears) was obviously better than a retweet!  Freaking out when I spied Vidyala and Voss at the Hilton, squeeing at Jen and Baj at the CTR party (regret not yelling GET SHIT ON though), being too shy to say hi to Absallom and Ataxus (my achievement point idol!), comparing ink with Hestiah, it was all really really good.


Blizzcon was really a great social setting - I actually didn't feel overwhelmed by having to socialize and meet a million people, I LIKED it!  No one asked me about being sick or unemployed, they asked for a hug and put out a hand and exchanged drinks and wanted to talk about games.  I also feel like I had a nice balance between time spent socializing at large, with my guildies, with my boyfriend, at panels, and at parties.  Although I certainly paid for it - I have never been this tired in my life, I feel like I've been at a rugby tourney, not a gaming convention!

Arielle, myself, and Hamlet - I think this is my favourite picture!
Photo credit to @kristin

So speaking of GAMES, I'm also excited to post about my impressions of the gaming news and events at Blizzcon 2013.

What can I say about Warlords of Draenor?  All my toons are goats.  I'm excited about Black-Temple-Goat-Town.  I'm excited about Draenei NPCs and maybe even some storylines.  I'm excited that I'll maybe get to hang out with Korgath Bladefist and Ner'zhul.  The setting totally does it for me, even though I'm a total lore noob.  I did the Horde starting area and loved it - I can't wait for Beta so I can do a "Sara and her Beta friends" series like I did with MOP - I already met a Frostboar and oh man was he a qtpi.  Really looking forward to exploring vast zones and the new character models!  I would love if Serrinne could narrow her eyes snarkily even more than she does now.

The addition of tertiary stats (and removal of hit/exp/dodge) is interesting for sure - as a healer I never really had this issue so to me, this is just an entire mega bonus (although I suspect we will be seeing changes with Spirit soon.)  I have been dying for run speed in WoW ever since I started playing D3.  I am so thrilled this is being added to the game - I want to be the fastest goat in the west!  I  have always said that sprints/engineering boots/etc are always a raid saver and better than any few points of any other stat you can grab.  So basically this was my idea, right guys?  I am excited to figure out this new system, especially since I think it will make healing (more) exciting.

Thoughts on Mythic raiding?  I think it will shake out just fine - and that's my rational side talking.  I love raiding with as many specs as possible (which is why I raid 25 instead of 10 at the moment) so obviously that'll be sad losing some spots, but all in all I think it won't be bad.  Obviously so little info out at the moment about administration and logistics, so I'll just leave it at my initial impression.

The quality of life changes (like heirloom page!) and Garrisons will obviously be something I love when they go live (I was someone who liked dailies, so Garrison maintenance excites me.)  The "Trial of the Gladiator" arena change absolutely thrilled me - I will get to arena on alts! This is so incredible, and (yes, I know this is horrible) will allow me to play the flavour of the month comps for pvp.  This rocks!

As for the level 100 Priest talents, I think they probably won't go live as they are (at least the healy bits.)

Divine Clarity is akin to the original iteration of Spirit Shell, although I'd be hard pressed to see why I should take this and use it when I already have Power Word: Shield - I suppose we'll have to see how the cost comparisons shake out on live.  This talent seems super sexy for Holy priests - when was the last time you cast Greater Heal, seriously.  The shadow version of this seems odd since we're getting a Cleave stat - I would take this talent if I wasn't that into multidotting (and without snapshots, this might be a good choice.)

Power of the Void seems incredibly fun (to me, at least - I <3 void shift!) but it completely devalues your stat choices since it's based on health percentages.  In my head, I read that talent and thought COULD I STACK STAM AND VOID SHIFT ALL DAY ERR DAY?  Let's hope not - that is just silly.  Shadow version is another dot - unsure about how this would compete with DP as an orb spender, but nice to have an alternative I suppose.

Spiritual Guidance is a very interesting mechanic in terms of introducing a penalty as part of the spell - it is reminiscent of the mana cost increase per arcane blast for mages.  This will be a fun balancing act for figuring out how often you can cast this without crippling your other heals.  Only complaint is that, again, it totally devalues your stat choices since it's based on % max HP.  Shadow version seems awesome, especially since we can bank 5 orbs now (WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!)

And now onto something I may even be more excited for than the WoW expansion:

DIABLO 3 IS GOING TO BE AMAZING SOON!  And that's coming from someone who has played dilligently since release.  Loot 2.0 and the Crusader (both of which I experienced at Blizzcon) are going to be awesome.  Crusader is super shiny and looks great, with some awesome animations.  The new act is totally fantastic, especially if you liked A1 - similar atmosphere with + ghosties.  I also got to try Adventure Mode and I did the "endless" thing where you just kill monsters until you spawn a rift boss guy - exactly what I love about Diablo.  Farmy farm farm time!  I also got to watch Mike play it on PS4 for a bit, which looked absolutely beautiful at that resolution.  Pretty excited for him - he is salivating over that version already.

Overall Blizzcon was an absolutely perfect weeekend, I'm looking forward to many more in my future!

I'll end this off with some thank yous: Kal and Chronis, I wouldn't have been at Blizzcon without you.  Thanks for bearing with my travel woes - I'm not a good traveler!  Thanks to Perculia for all her hard work on the Wowhead Blizzcon coverage - without her I wouldn't have known what I had missed!  Thanks also to Hamlet for organizing a lovely dinner, and for some downtime chats.  And thanks of course to Mike for everything.