Mushan! Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me!
Thank you, Quelys! I was so surprised and excited when you asked to interview me. It’s truly an honor!
So real-life Mushan; lover or fighter? What are you like?
Lover. In the flesh, I’m a regular guy working a regular job. I’m an introvert, but I like to talk, if that makes any sense (erm, read my blog!). I’m very much a pacifist. I place a high value on relationships. I play some guitar; I like to get outside as often as possible. I love to read – often to the detriment of a good night’s sleep!
I really enjoy your blog, there is constantly new posts to entertain your visitors – can you tell me a little more about it?
Mushan, Etc. is my second WoW-related blog; my first was started back in 2009. It was the smallest of blogs, but it was a growing experience for me. I canned it back in 2011 and started a general, non-gaming blog, which I posted to for a year or so.
I struggled with that blog, though. After a while, I found that I wanted to write about WoW, but I had made a commitment to myself that I would not do so on that particular blog. I was still playing the game all the time, and I was still reading WoW blogs and articles and all about hunters. So while that blog was going weeks between posts, I was fantasizing about starting a new blog.
Eventually, I started a brand new WordPress account. I wrote up some ideas for posts, picked a design… I took my time putting it together, and debuted it in April 2012. And my writing has largely been along the lines of what I’ve wanted it to be: stories of my adventures, fun bits, screenshots, commentary. The only thing I haven’t really approached is this idea of telling the story of an adventure, like a leveling adventure, in chapters or something. But at this point, I’m fine with that. I’m very happy with how the blog has turned out.
Mushan, Etc. sits sort of in the middle of the hunter-sphere. It’s not a theorycrafting/guides blog, it’s not a pets blog, it’s not a huntering-only blog. It has some topical variety to it, which gives me freedom to write about whatever I wish, within the loose definition of a WoW blog.
I have noticed in recent times you have been playing your alts (probably a liiiiiittle too much) that are not hunters – EXPLAIN YOURSELF!
Haha! Yes, you’ve found me out. I… (*adopts Koltrane voice*) I have a lot of alts.
That said, I don’t think I have anywhere near as many as some others… I don’t have any significant toons on other servers, for example, so as far as that goes, 99.9% of my play time is spent with the toons I have on Dalaran.
I have seven level-90s. I’ve taken all four roles into, at minimum, LFR: melee-ing (quite badly!) and tanking on my warrior, healing on my druid, and at range with my hunter(s) and mage. I have a paladin – my oldest surviving toon, actually – that exists almost exclusively because I don’t feel like leveling Alchemy again. And most recently, I finished leveling my Blood DK, which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit.
Out of all of those, I play hunters far better than any other class, and can play the mage fairly well, although he’s been sitting idle for months, due to time issues. I’m somewhat competent with my Prot warrior and Resto druid, and enjoy them both. Beyond that, the other toons I have are mainly to cleanse the palate and have fun with.
I guess that if I were “hunter cool,” I would have 11 (or more!) hunters. I have “only” three at the moment. But the variety adds to my enjoyment of the game, and when I jump back on my hunter after playing an alt or two, it always feels like home.
I do think I deserve some credit for having two level 90 hunters though!
From your recent posts, it seems that you have made a few great friends playing WoW, and unfortunately may have lost some of those friends. What do you think about those who try to place a negative outlook on online friendships?
It’s an interesting age we live in, isn’t it? Who would have thought, when we were kids (and by we, I mean people who’ve been adults for 10-12 years or more), that it would be very easy to form and cultivate long-term and meaningful relationships with people we’ve never physically met, or even talked with on the phone?
The two subjects that I wrote about within the past couple of months were people that I had never met in real life, and, in the case of one of them, I never even heard his voice. But I was deeply affected by these events.
The death of the first man was shocking, sad, and needless. He was a man in his prime, with a loving family, serving his community. We had a lot of respect for one another, and while I didn’t know him well, I grieved for him nonetheless.
The second person is a personal friend. We had mutual admiration for each other. And the uncertainty over his current situation is disconcerting, to put it extremely mildly. Whatever happened, I’ll always have great memories of our friendship.
Were these real friendships? Do they matter? Absolutely. One of the things that I’ve written about is how awesome it is to feel a part of the WoW blogging community. The same is true in the cases of in-game relationships. I’ve only met one of my fellow raiders in real life (and live with another…), but I’ve been good friends with many of them for a long time. There is absolute validity in that, and the online nature of those relationships does not diminish the level of importance and genuineness that they have.
I don’t know why anyone would deride online relationships. It happens quite often, though, and I usually assume that it’s caused by immaturity, or, at least, uninformed assumptions and behavior. I think that there is still a stigma about online relationships: that they are the province of the person who spends his or her every waking hour online, to the exclusion of the outside world and community. In other words, people who are “losers living in their parents’ basements.” As much as that may or may not be true in any one individual’s case – because those people are still definitely out there – that stigma is still applied universally by too many people.
To try to actually answer your question… I think that the truth, as in other areas of life, is that balance and moderation are key, and I think the vast majority of people understand that. However, that stigma is something that may persist in the minds of some people forever. And that’s unfortunate.
A lot of our fellow hunter bloggers (and realistically, some of the major faces of the hunter class) seem to be retiring – what are your thoughts on this?
Well, it’s sad from a personal perspective any time someone retires from the community, because that person’s input and influence, or at least the consistency thereof, is gone, and in many cases it leaves a vacuum, both tangibly and intangibly.
In my view, the biggest losses recently have been Tabana and Frostheim. Neither was surprising to me, but both are/have been a shock to the system.
In the case of WoW Hunters Hall, which was the brainchild of Frost and was amazingly curated by Tabana, that site became the hub of the wheel, connecting the spokes in the hunter community. When Tabana went on indefinite hiatus, there was never resolution as far as a potential replacement, and it has fallen into dormancy, which is a shame. It was an amazing resource covering almost every aspect of the community. I definitely miss it – and I miss Tabana. She definitely left her mark on the hunter community through her work and personality.
Frostheim is another level, though. When you say “major faces of the hunter community,” his grizzled mug is close to the face, to me. He has so much exuberance for the class, along with charisma, which showed in both his writing and his podcasting, that he has inspired a lot of people, myself included. He leaves big shoes for the next Scattered Shots columnist, a void on the Hunting Party Podcast, and WHH is, of course, a big question mark. When he announced his retirement, it felt like part of the hunter class was retiring, because part of my enjoyment of the class has been enjoying his writing and podcast work for so many years.
I’ve been through this before. During Wrath, I got into blogs in general by looking for information on feral/tank druids. I found Big Bear Butt that way, and Vallen (Feral Aggression), Karthis (Of Teeth And Claws), Kalon (Think Tank), Alaron (The Fluid Druid), and others. And soon they began to fall off – first, Karthis quit the game in Wrath, then Kalon, and then Vallen in Cataclysm; and Alaron has been in and out. And those are just the big ones, for the old feral spec(s). The attrition is incredible, when I look at it that way! But today, Alaron is still around, and so is BBB the druid-hunter-lock, and while Reesi no longer tanks with her druid, The Inconspicuous Bear is still a go-to site for Guardian druids thanks to Arielle. And there are many other resources, including long-time ones. So that community is still there: it’s just different.
And we’ll see the same thing. The hunter community has proven to be both huge and resilient. While not all of the players are the same – and while we’ll greatly miss Frost, Tabana, and others who go dormant or retire – the community rolls on. It’s been this way for a while – we haven’t really had Brigwyn or BRK, but we still have this amazing hunter community. This will definitely continue; we’ll get some new blood, some will retire or fall off, but this is how it goes with a long-lasting game like this.
You have been raiding with two different guilds recently, what is that like?
It has been a learning experience. Recently, I’ve been raiding four-five nights per week. I’ve found that raiding five days, progressing normals with one team and working on heroics with the other, is a stress that I don’t necessarily enjoy having.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to progress, though. As of today, I’ve gotten to kill H Jin’rokh, H Horridon, and H Ji-Kun several times, and put some time in on H Tortos. We’ve cleared normal ToT in my main run, so it has been nice to see some more challenging, heroic content, and to perform well doing so. It’s reaffirming from a confidence-in-my-ability standpoint.
Any tips for people trying to assimilate into a new raid team?
My experience is mainly with joining with a team that has progressed further than my main team. With that in mind:
Be prepared, in every way. Have your gear 100% raid-ready, regardless of whether you’re at their level or they’re going to be “gearing” you for a couple of runs. Find out which progression fights they are planning to do, and research them. Know what’s coming.
The less explanation you require from the rest of the team, the better. Basically, you want to make it so that, at worst, they don’t mind having you on the team, and, (hopefully) better, they’ll be glad they brought you along.
Being prepared, and playing well, can break down a lot of barriers!
Apart from raiding and blogging, do you actively participate in any other aspects of WoW?
Well, I do like achievements. That said, I’m not an achievement whore. I don’t go all out for them, unless they’re fun or challenging to achieve. For instance, I did most of the holiday achievements back in the day, but I won’t touch Noble Garden, Children’s Week, or Love is in the Air for any in-game price, unless I’m getting a gear upgrade out of it.
I’ve learned that if I’m not having fun, there’s no point. And I get less enjoyment out of the achievements that are easy – “Yay you went to Darkmoon Faire!” – than the ones that take some time or effort or some cool feat. So I do have a decent amount of achievements, but I don’t chase them like I could.
Anyway, I did just start doing some Brawler’s Guild, which is fun. I’ve PvPed occasionally, although PvP seems to have gone through so much upheaval this xpac that it feels shattered. So I’m not really into PvP right now.
Trying to answer this question, it looks like I don’t do much, for all of the time I spend playing! I suppose I’ll credit that to my declining interest in PvP – I used to do that a lot. I spend most of my time in-game prepping for upcoming raids, playing alts, keeping my farms in order, and hanging out with friends doing whatever.
I do enjoy soloing stuff, and I’ve written about that from time to time.
Do you have any attachment to any of the pet pixels you have tamed over the years?
My favorite pets are cats. I have Pogeyan – a rare from Stranglethorn – and a frostsaber from Winterspring that I named Kharta. And I made it a point to get one of the tigers from Neferset City before completing the final battle there. I named that one Hera – very bright orange, with a red glow to its eyes. I also picked up Pitch from Sholazar, who I renamed Numa after the word for “lion” from the Tarzan books, as well as a white lion from somewhere. I really like cats as pets.
I like almost all of my pets, actually. But none of them are exotics. Pet-collecting hasn’t been something I’ve cared too much about as a hunter. I know that’s anathema to say, but it’s true. Pets add great flavor to the class, and I do enjoy them, but their functionality is what I enjoy the most about them. I’m the furthest thing from that guy who will camp a spawn point for a pet… I don’t have the interest, so it’s not worth my time.
If you had to choose, what would be your favourite raid and encounter in WoW history? (you can pick more than one)
I started raiding at the end of March, 2009, so I don’t have the experience with earlier encounters. Our guild was running Naxx 25. I was a terrible player then. But I learned how to raid there, so that was an early favorite.
From there, we split into 10s and had two teams in Ulduar. I really came into my own at that point, as a raider. I loved that place, and still have fond memories of it. There really hasn’t been a raid location as wondrous as Ulduar since then, in my opinion. Epic, huge place; great boss fights.
As for encounters… when it comes to raiding, there’s a line of demarcation for me, because I switched class and role (from melee to ranged) in Cataclysm. I thought Lich King was and is an amazing encounter, but I did that fight, and those before it, as melee. After that, I became a hunter, and as such my favorite fight was probably Ragnaros in Firelands. That one stands out to me: it was a long fight, I was moving all over the place, switching Aspects (to and from Fox) a lot… I was pet-stunning adds, I was picking off adds… doing big damage… it was a great encounter for hunters, in my opinion.
There have been other great hunter-friendly fights, obviously, but that one stands out as pretty epic, and my favorite fight in a long time.
What is your favourite boss encounter of Mists of Pandaria?
Hmm… That’s a tough one. I’m not sure that I’m particularly attached to any of the fights in MoP so far. I thought Lei Shen was pretty cool, but that’s also because, when my guild finally downed it recently, it was the most epic feeling I’ve had yet as a raider in Mists.
In your opinion, what is the best hunter ability?
Disengage and Feign Death. I use them all the time while soloing old content (etc.), and really like how powerful they are.
Hardcore, casual, casually hardcore… how do you see yourself?
Well, I’m not “hardcore.”
I would, however, consider myself hardcore about certain aspects of how I play. I am fairly fanatical about gear, for instance. I love gear – I even like leveling without heirlooms because I like getting new gear as I level! Anyway, I make sure that, in whatever I do, my toon is in the best position to do well. And I tend to over-prepare. I like to know what I’m doing with the class I’m playing, even if it’s just tanking a dungeon. At the beginning of an expansion, I’ll watch heroic dungeon boss videos – that’s something I started doing in Cataclysm. So that kind of mindset dominates how I play. Perhaps that comes from an innate fear of screwing up, of being “that guy.”
With that being said, I play with that somewhat-hardcore intensity, but I’m fairly casual with respect to the level of content I complete. I raid with what would generally be considered a casual guild – nowhere close to realm first, even. And I enjoy playing and progressing with the people I’ve played with for so long.
So other than the fact that I’m not a hardcore raider, I’m not sure I know how to better answer the question!
Survival, BM, or MM?!
MM from back when I leveled Mushan at end of Wrath until the start of 4.3; SV from Dragon Soul on. I’ve never looked back – I love SV!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! Any shout outs?
Shout-outs to my long-time raiding friends! Secure, for teaching me how to raid (and sticking by me at the beginning!); Siville, for encouraging and befriending me back when I was just starting; and Squido, Sombramuerte, and Hassar, for having made raiding such a fun and rewarding experience through the years!
And thanks to you again, Quelys, for these excellent questions. As I said, it’s an honor!