Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Epic PUG

Setting: Halls of Lightning (normal verison)
Group: Tank - Me
3 DPS - Guildees
Healer - PUG Paladin

We zone in and the pugpally goes
"wow, an 80 tank! Whoa, three 80s (including me)! This is going to be a good run."

First couple trash pulls go fine, I don't think I even required healing. I was sitting at around 44,000 hp for that run and the death strikes were healing just about as much damage as the trash mobs were doing to me.

First boss pull

I'm thinking.... Hmm.. taking a lot of damage here wonder why? Health drops lower.... Activate Vampiric blood and a rune tap to give me a 40% heal and I'm still losing health. Fine.. Mark of blood. Ug. Just not enough. WTF? I died? How did I die?

DPS 1 dead
DPS 2 dead
DPS 3 dead

Pugpally immunity bubbled and ran like a bitch for the door.

Pugpally "Oh, sorry, was AFK"

At this point the fail is so epic I can't help but laugh - and hard.

We regroup and down the boss. At which point the pugpally suggesting killing more trash mobs for the "crzy good xp" [he really did type crzy. seriously, is one more letter that much harder to type?]

I don't realy care to spend more time in there than we have to so I plow ahead. Everything goes smoothly until the second boss. Fight proceeds as normal.

Golems are running around and off to the corner of my screen I see the pugpally getting awfuly close to the pack of trash mobs. I'm thinking hmm.. maybe he's just running from the golems. Pugpally throws a heal and scoots closer to the trash.



Dead pugpally.

Happy tank.

...little bastard was going to try to force his way into more xp.

Well you can't get xp when you're dead now, can ya? Jerk.

The rest of the run was him repeatedly asking to run another dungeon because "we have such a geared out tank."

As soon as lokken dropped I left the group shortly followed by the rest of the guildees. One, however, told me pugpally had written:

"... but where are you going?"

Did I feel a twinge on the old heart strings? Maybe a little. Do I regret it? No.... My repair bills for dying just ONCE is getting absurdly expensive with the plate epics I have. We're talking 15 gold just about every time I die.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Slogging it Through

When Quintalan hit 75 the other day, I took some gear out of storage that Murtaugh's Kriegtrommel had made for me ages ago. (Okay, I took out only half, as the other half was for level 76.) I spent some time equipping my Holy Spec with the gear, and then proceeded to start cleaning out the vault of some old equipment.

I kept a few items that had some special significance to me -the old Sindorei Warblade, Ravager, and some others- but I was in a house cleaning mode. Naturally, I need to do this with my part of the Guild bank, but I've already cursed myself a couple of times for having already burned some gems needed for the Jewelcrafting dailies from Dalaran and I had to spend extra time prospecting for them. Yeah, the old stuff -the Tigerseye and whatnot- that can go, but the oddball items I'm keeping hold of. In this game the oddest stuff shows up as an ingredient in some of these recipes, and I'm not going back to the Arathi Highlands just for an item or two. (Yeah, I know about the auction house, but I've already gone through that in my final Jewelcrafting push to get to 300, and I'm not inclined to spend a boatload of gold again. Painful, that was.)

Going through all of that stuff got me to thinking about where Quintalan has been in the journey, and what he did to get there.

I have a regular group night on Thursdays. It works out well for me as my wife is a big Survivor fan; she gets to watch her show while I spend some time online. That said, at least 85% -probably around 90%- of my leveling has been achieved by solo quests outside of the weekly session. With a few exceptions, I've even completed the non-dungeon group quests solo. Some of them (ol' Knucklerot and Luzran come to mind) I waited on until the quest was comfortably green to handle, but a lot of others I went in and just bashed it until I made it through. I could do this as a Paladin; doing it as a Priest is a bit dicier at the lower levels, I've discovered.

All of this solo questing has etched itself across the documents I've kept -the Horde Trauma Certificate is one example- as well as the occasional bonus item that was mailed to me a couple of days after. Sure, reputation is another indicator of how often you've been questing vs. instance hopping, but equally so is how it impacts your gear. With the exception of the gear that Murtaugh had made or gave to me (including sets of Fel Iron and Saronite gear as well as my current two-handed weapon), some items from a guy I ran into in Desolace, and a couple of items I bought at auction, everything else has been a pickup from somewhere.

Since my leveling has been solo heavy, my gear is a mix of green and blue. The Holy spec has the most blue right now, as the Saronite gear was made for a Holy Spec. The Retribution spec is still mainly green and in a constant state of flux as I pick up new drops and swap things out. I used to weigh whether the marginal increase in stats was better than the amount of gold I could get at auction, but once the vendor trash started being worth more than a gold coin I stopped worrying and would just equip as necessary. (You have to love Northrend for that.)

If you look closely at what I've got on, you can guess where I got a lot of the items. (Worg Slayer's Ring? Must be Grizzly Hills. Shoveltusk Pendant? You've been seen in the Borean Tundra having some beers with young Hellscream. Bladefists' Breath? Isn't that from Hellfire? Hmm... I need to replace that.) WoW doesn't have scars on the characters, but it does have this.

I can't say I've had a lot of players comment on my gear much. When I do get some comments, it's usually about the weapon attached to Quintalan's back. I received more comments about the Sindorei Warblade than anything else I've carried around, mostly along the lines of "Wow, what a kick ass blade! Where did you get that?"

Most of the rest of the comments I've gotten from other players I've encountered are more akin to wonderment that I've gotten so far with all of that green gear. "You should have at least only blue stuff by now," one Hunter told me when we were waiting for an 80th level Alliance character to evacuate the area we were farming. Another Hunter told me I need to get my gear up so I can go raiding and get the really sweet gear.

I just sort of shrug at those comments. I'm not concerned about the patchwork nature of the gear; it's Quintalan's story written there for everyone to see. Even after 75 levels, I'm enjoying the ride and how the quest chains pull together the overarching tale. If my gear isn't up to a raiding spec, that's fine with me; I don't raid anyway. If the luck goes my way in an instance, so be it; if not, well, there's always beers back at the inn later. Outside of the regular weekly session, I don't do instances either; I'm too wrapped up in the story. Since I don't do instances much, it follows that I don't have a lot of blue gear.

My job is simple: keep myself and anybody else alive in spite of best efforts otherwise. If it were possible to see, Quintalan's gear is probably covered in dried blood of both my enemies and my friends, and after a while that's all that matters, not whether its green, blue or purple. Just bring 'em back alive, baby.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Not Again

Okay, I'm not an expert at PvP but I'm getting better. While gear is a significant determining factor in who wins a PvP fight, a decent amount of PvP is luck and who got the drop on whom.

That said, how the hell did that Priest get the drop on me, and what the hell is in his arsenal that kept me from whacking him before I could close?

I really need to get my own Priest out a bit more often and level him more if they can do THAT in Shadow spec in the 70s.


Oh, and Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Role Changing

I’ve reached the level where I get to be the cavalry should some of my fellow Hordies end up in trouble in the non-Northrend areas. It’s a strange feeling, turning from the hunted into the hunter, but satisfying in that I get to help my side in some small ways.

A couple of weeks ago when I was farming Fel Iron in Hellfire Peninsula I came across a couple of Horde players working on the quest chain in Fallen Sky Ridge. They were in their low-mid 60’s –a Death Knight and a Mage, while a Warlock was operating independently nearby- and seemed to be doing well enough for themselves from what I could see from my vantage point above. I’d turned away toward the deposit of Fel Iron nearby when they were jumped by an Alliance player a couple of levels higher than they were. “Oh no you don’t,” I grumbled to myself as I swooped in.

The Horde players –caught between a Raging Colossus and an Alliance player- concentrated on the Alliance player first. By the time I landed they’d defeated the Alliance guy –a Death Knight, I believe- but they were too weak to overcome the now multiple Colossi closing on them. The Warlock was in desperate straits and tried running away with a Colossus close on her heels. I may have been too late to help out with the Alliance guy, but I could do something about the Colossi.

I got the Colossus to aggro on me and cut it down to size –amazing what six extra levels can do for you- and went to check on the others. They were making do, but with no healer among them the situation was deteriorating rapidly. I switched into party healer mode and zapped them back up to strength while they finished off the remaining Colossus.

It was at that point when an 80th level Alliance player swooped in.

“This is so not fair,” I thought as I steeled myself for sure destruction.

The Human Mage looked me over, took the Fel Iron I’d been eyeing, and left.

I shook my head and made sure the Horde players were at full strength before I bugged out. The Warlock split, leaving the Mage and Death Knight, but they seemed okay and thanked me for the help. I’d mounted and hadn’t gotten far, however, before I realized that the Horde players weren’t paying too close attention to that Fel Reaver that had wandered dangerously nearby.

I could see the train wreck coming, so I hung around.

Sure enough, in the middle of fighting a Colossus, the Reaver aggroed on them and, well, that was that.

I may have been 71st level at the time, but I didn’t have the tank spec or the gear to handle one of those guys on my own. I knew better than to get involved.

A minute later, the Reaver moved far enough away for me to resurrect the two players.

I believe one of them may have said “Oops” before thanking me –again.

Just another day in Outland…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Small Fact

Never stand in front of a dragon.

(In my defense, I'll say that -as a lefty- my first inclination when running away from an AoE attack is to turn left. That just happened to be the wrong turn at the time.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On Noobs and Heirlooms

There are several items that have been kicking around in my head since I last wrote about things other than WoW farming. (Sounds like a non-sequitur, doesn’t it?) I’ll try to cover them all over the course of the next few posts, so don’t be alarmed if I suddenly start spamming the blog.

Having had my share of run-ins with Alliance players, I’m starting to wonder about the need for heirloom weapons/equipment. For longtime players, it’s a tremendous boon: you don’t have to constantly upgrade your equipment, you start out with equipment that gives you a tremendous advantage over other players, and you can concentrate on quicker leveling. The first and third items are great if you’re a power leveler, but it’s that second item that has me bothered.

Sure, you can zip through those lower levels if you’ve got all blue equipment (which is what heirloom equipment is -at minimum- for any particular level, anyway), but it’s just about at the point of being unbalancing in PvP combat. I’m not talking about arenas or team combat, but rather PvP combat out in the real world. Having been ganked (or Tarren Milled for you Horde players out there) enough times by other players several levels lower than my own in a straight up fight, you start to wonder about how much of an advantage the heirloom equipment gives over the people who are new to the game. I can understand someone who gets in a guild and gets a bunch of blue and green equipment that the other players don’t need, but when a Warrior 7-8 levels lower than your Warrior beats the snot out of you and you follow the standard hit procedure, there’s something else at work here.

This sort of suspicion really didn’t crystallize until I went through a couple of dungeons with Murtaugh. At the time, he was using his 80th level Orcish Death Knight, Kriegtrommel. One Thursday night of fighting, things look normal. Then, the next Thursday night, ol’ Krieg was bashing heads left and right to the point where he –as the tank- was doing most of the damage. (DPS? What DPS?) I told him at one point like I was back to being in the 30’s just tagging along for the ride.

What was different?

Sure, there are a lot of factors at work: the dungeon involved, group dynamics, etc., but for my money it was the time he spent on the weekend in between getting the best tanking gear possible.

Then my mind made the logical jump: if an 80th level character benefits this much from improved gear, imagine what would happen to a low level character if they had access to an equivalent heavy load of gear in the form of heirloom equipment.

Maybe at high levels the nature of heirloom stuff is dwarfed by the epic level items, but at those critical 10-40 levels they become a potentially unbalancing effect in the game. When you size up somebody in PvP you have a reasonable expectation based on level whether you can beat them or not. I’ve done it, I’ve seen others do it, and even Alliance players in their mid-upper 60’s gave me a wide berth when I was farming Fel Iron at 71. (The aerial view that a flying mount gives is invaluable for that observation, particularly if you’re not a Hunter.) However, when you’ve got gear that disrupts that expectation, that 32nd level Paladin your 39th level Hunter might be waiting to feast on could actually be tricked out and ready to turn the tables.

Perhaps this FUD campaign is what Blizzard had in mind when they created heirloom gear. I often got the feeling that the concept was much simpler: wouldn't it be cool to bequeath some gear to your new characters? To the noob, however, you can get the feeling that you’re doing something wrong by working your way through the system without the benefit of a “get out of jail free” card. After all, what priest or mage wouldn’t want a Grand Staff of Jordan to help them through those first 40 levels or more?

The D&D player in me is coming to the fore here, as one of the great issues that affect DMs when they run a PnP RPG campaign is to make sure the game is balanced for the players. If the DM lets that +5 Holy Avenger slip into the hands of a 4th or 5th level Paladin, the campaign goes all out of whack. The lucky player has a much easier time fighting monsters, while the rest of the group is stuck back where they're supposed to be. The situation becomes lose-lose ("Hey, why can't I have one of those?" or "Wow, this is way too easy!"), and the DM has to correct this problem before resentments and boredom threaten to destroy the group. I get the feeling that we're seeing a similar situation occurring in WoW with the introduction of these heirloom items.

Now, if heirloom gear could be taken from a defeated character in combat, that would be something. I was originally going to suggest one of any gear, but something special -like heirloom gear- would be fought over in any viable fantasy world. Why simply leave it as a reward, when history (and SF/F literature) has boatloads of examples of people who misused an item of great power and had it stolen from them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Love to Hate

So Krieg is now pretty well geared out. Just about the only things left for me to upgrade on him out side of a raid environment are one trinket, lets and gloves. And also some BOE epic boots, but I don't have the pattern, nor the funds right now to get it off the AH.

I've been reading some interesting things about disparity in tanking classes. From both the tanking boards I read as well as a few of the healing blogs I visit.

Tamarind over at Righteous Orbs describes his impressions of healing tanks in raid environments. The post over there is complete with fancy graphics straight out of mspaint.

Druids seemed to be taking damage at a steady and somewhat predictable pace. They cannot block or parry but have exceptional dodge rates, so their combat log must look something like: miss, miss, miss, hit, miss.

Paladins as Tamarind notes in his post are just a straight line... "steady and pure"

And then there's the death knights. It looks more like a wave. And I, for one, know for damn sure that's a close analogy to the way my tank handles incoming damage. My extent of tanking most recently in wow has been limited to normal dungeons and heroics (except for Halls of Reflection. Owwie make it stop.....)

Which has me curious about starting to gear up my paladin and compare the two. I have experience tanking on both classes and it would be intersting to see how the two stack up.

The problem with that is my paladin. I just love to hate him. I cannot express what exactly it is about him, but it eventually makes me a very angry individual when playing him. Well ok, not angry really, but more like frustrated...

That could be because the last time I played him, dual specs were not out yet and I was stuck 24/7 as a protection paladin. Let me tell you, having what (at the time) was a decent set of gear and trying to quest solo was an excercise in frustration. Mana? What mana... I hit the mob with three special attacks and now I have to wait for a bit before I can do anything. Time to tab out and surf the net.

Perhaps the introduction of dual specs will allieviate some of that frustration, as I could run around as Ret when doing solo quests or just out and about to stir up some trouble.

Time will tell if I want to jump back into the light.

Stupid butt elfs... /sigh

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kriegtrommel the Patient

Using the new dungeon tool, I have successfully completed the group with 50 random pugs achievement.

I have been 80 what, 3, 4 days?

I am now rather decked out with sweet sweet tank gear. I dinged 80 and had a small cache of BOE epics to equip and start running dungeons. I didn't exactly have the confidence to tank right away, so I joined the dungeon queue as dps.

I had marginal success as dps. It was fun, because I got a chance to run with our other 80. Dungeons are always more fun when you have somebody to BS with. He's an arms warrior, which means he was after plate dps gear. With me being there as dps as well it pretty much meant I wasn't going to be getting upgrades for a dps off set, and only getting a shot at tanking gear if the group's tank didn't need the piece.

I did enough groups to get the tier 9 tank shoulders. With the current set of gear I had I figured I would TRY to tank something. Knowing full well that the best shot of upgrades I would get are from Trial of the Champion, I figured what the hell. The worst that can happen is utter failure infront of random pugs from random servers. Meh, that's ok with me.

Lo and behold! Success!

Don't get me wrong, it was a bit hairy at first, but I lived. Nothing gets the blood pumping like jumping into a new battle and not seeing the fights first hand. I mean, I'm anal about these things enough to search out the fights on wowwiki and youtube to see what's going to happen, but surviving it is another story.

With epic pieces dropping from the Trial of the Champion dungeon on a normal setting (not heroic - as you can only do each heroic dungeon once per day before you get locked out), it meant I had a good chance of getting major upgrades after each run.

Let me tell you..... I am now well acquainted with that dungeon. Very very well. I farmed it enough times to get EVERY piece of tanking gear that could possibly drop for me. After getting new gloves, boots, belt, legs, and a trinket, I was in pretty darn good shape to tank what ever came my way.

Yes, Sir!! I was feelin' pretty good.

I'm wondering what to do next and I see a LFM Onyxia 10 man come across trade chat and figured what the heck. I'll try it out. I raided onyxia back in the day and it would be fun to say hello again. I got the invite and everything was dandy. I start heading to the dungeon and see "Sorry, your gear score is too low."

Here I am, feeling pretty good about the new gear I have and wham, hit by the ignorance of the gear score.

I had been reading about this on tankspot and a few other places, but I had not experienced it before. Hell, I didn't even know what my score even was. Turns out I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3600 score. I had to download the mod because I was curious.

So, with my newly developed distaste for finding a raid group in trade chat, I went back to heroics. This time as a tank! Rawr! I had great success. I earned enough badges for the tier 9 badge ring, and the tier 9 chest piece.

So the warrior friend of mine and myself were lamenting over the lack of weapon upgrades. Here we were both sporting the titansteel mace. It's nice for a fresh 80, but trying to hold aggro against much better geared players was a challenge.

So we both decided to enter the heroic version of the Trial of the Champion. Again, success! Hurrah! No weapon... Boo, Hiss!

So, having successfuly tanked that, I was wondering if I could do the new dungeons. Turns out, yes, I can. I was well enough geared at that point. Boy are the new dungeons cool! Some awesome new mechanics. These dungeons are getting elaborate. How cool.

First time through the Forge of Souls and a 1 handed tanking mace dropped. Nice! Just the upgrade I need. Or so I thought. So deathknights CAN dual wield weapons and tank with them, just not tanking weapons, from what I understand. I had aggro control issues a couple times. It was not bad, but when a clothy gets literally one shot by the boss, things get interesting.

Which as a funny side note... We were in the Pit of Saron on the final boss. I'm up front waiting for the Scourge Lord to dismount his awesome looking skeletal dragon and fight like a man. When suddenly the Troll priest charges past me just in time for Scourge Lord Tyrannis to say hello. It was quite ammusing. It was one of those, "WTF was that, are you serious??" moments.

After a valiant attempt of healing by the ret pally, we ended up wiping when the boss was at 7%. Close but no cigar. But let me tell you... the next attempt the priest stay way the hell back, lol.

So to wrap up this suddenly great wall of text I got geared out over the weekend and for a 4 day old 80 I'm feeling pretty damn good. Best of all, I am now actually better geared than my paladin tank, who I quite despise.

All because the wifey had a cookie exchange on Saturday and a ladies crafting night (for NINE HOURS) on Sunday. Though I did actually miss the wifey this weekend I did get a LOT accomplished in game and that made me feel pretty good.

Cue Duelling Banjos

(Yes, I've been busy, and yes, I'm now seen in Northrend. I'll get to that on another post.)

The past week or two -save for occasional forays into Northrend and our weekly group session on Thursday night- I've become Farmer Quint.

Yee haw.

Back when I was somewhere in the 30s, I made the decision to concentrate on leveling and questing rather than stopping for every copper, iron or tin deposit around. I was also in that peculiar stage in Jewelcrafting where you need some higher level metals and/or gems to fashion stuff that will advance you, but those higher level materials were rare in the 30s level areas. I figured that I'd get around to backfilling my professions when I got to the 40s, so it was no big deal.

The 40s went by, and I said I'd do it when I got to the 50s.

Rinse and repeat. Twice.

You'd think that when I landed some Green items with sockets in them from Outland that I'd remember to go and start bringing up my JC capability, but noooo..... I think it was when I realized that I couldn't mine anything in either Northrend or Outland that it finally clicked that I ought to do more than simply keeping my First Aid current. (All the time spent learning Cooking for the Thanksgiving-esque achievements also reminded me how far I had to go.)

So, a-farming I went.

First, I had to get to being able to farm Thorium, which meant mining so much freaking Mithril and Truesilver that my ears were turning silver. Well, that gave me an excuse to explore some parts of the Eastern Kingdoms that I'd neglected. I also found the 70th level Raid dungeon in Deadwind Pass, which provided me an outlet to get some XP while farming. Luckily for me, it didn't take that long -timewise- to reach the plateau needed to mine Thorium.

Thorium is a real bastard. The best places to mine Thorium, as Murtaugh likes to put it, are in the Silithid dungeons. (Yes, I know about the Eastern Plaguelands, but have you tried farming there? It would have taken me twice as long to farm in the Plaguelands as anywhere else given all the competition for resources.) Well, I'd already explored and quested in Un'Goro Crater, so I knew where to look there, but I hadn't explored Silithus that much. That was to shortly change.

Since I was there, I figured I might as well gain some reputation with the Cenarion Hold and work on some quest lines. That wasn't too bad, and it took me a couple of hours to progress the quest lines to the point where I'd need another body or two to help finish. The farming, however, was painful. Almost all the Thorium was below ground, which meant fighting my way through Silithids that posed no real threat yet weren't low enough level for them to ignore me. And that last gasp before you reach 300 is painful: you spent about 40 points with only one way to raise your skill -mining Thorium- yet it's a green level skill at that point. I probably went through about 60 mining attempts (plus smelting) before I reached that 300 plateau and I could mine Fel Iron in the Outlands.

Then I had to do the same for Jewelcrafting.

Given that the last 20-30 points in JC before you reach 300 is spent generating rings and necklaces heavy in Azerothian Diamonds, guess where I had to prospect for the necessary ore?

Oh, I was so sick of Silithus when I was finished, I just wanted to blanket the entire region in a spray of Raid. The Cenarions might not approve, however.

I've spent the past several days farming in Outland, and while Mining has been a breeze -relatively speaking- Jewelcrafting is going to be painful once again. I've reached 333 on JC, and the gems, which are my primary method of advancing to this point, are all either green or about to turn green.

Here we go again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Here we are...

at December already. Where has this year gone?

I know there's tons of 3.3 patch impressions floating around the blog-o-sphere and I won't comment on it much more than that I LOVE the new dungeon finder. It helped me find groups for dungeons while leveling the last 2 levels towards 80. I was able to queue up for a few dungeon runs and do some dungeon based quests I had not previously been able to.

The tool is nice for a small group such as ours. So I'm really excited to help the rest of my group out by tanking in dungeons. I've done all the dungeons before, so I have a bit of the strategy down. I do tend to forget minor details though.... like the AOE blast that happens when the final boss of Utgarde Keep comes back to un-life. What... so we lost one clothy and almost our healer. /flex OOOoh yeah.

I'm glad this new tool also affords our group what is finally an actual game play experience. The healer gets an opportunity to shine, and the dps gets a chance to actually dps instead of my character (ho was much higher level than the content) saughtered everything in sight.

Oh, and I'm also excited because I finally did reach level 80, where upon I equipped the 6 bind on equip epics I had saved / crafted for my tank.

That excitement comes with a bit of anxiety. I am now technically ready to start heroics. I have a defence rating of 537 which is just two points over the minimum to make sure I don't get a critical strike against me while in heroic dungeons. The anxiety comes from me being nervous about my character's gear. The role I've chosen to take is that of a tank. I am responsible for keeping my party alive and making sure I am the meatshield I am supposed to be.

Heroics are a new challenge for me, and I hope I am geared well enough to survive some of the heroics until I start getting better gear. I still haven't got any tanking trinkets and I will need to do some regular instances I think before I'll be ready to tank heroics.

I'm on my way though with 6 badges of triump!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Been a while

It's been a little while since my last post, and a few things have happened.

First off Congratulations to Redbeard (Quint) for just about reacing level 58 and hitting the first expansion! Exciting times!

Secondly, as per usual with my indecisiveness I am back at playing my death knight and he's now level 70 and patiently waiting my wife's mage to catch up a bit. He's got maxed out blacksmithing and is pimping a full level 70 cobalt armor set and an axe of frozen death. It's cool to have "crafted by *insertyournamehere*" on just about every piece of armor you've got.

My decision this time was well warranted. I believe the ammount of cooldows you can pop and being a blood spec DK tank with an inexperienced healer makes the healer's job a little bit easier because you can regenerate your own health fairly easily to assist the healing.

And this is shallow, but I like fast. The main reason I still use my paladin half as much as I do is because he's got an epic flyer and crusader aura. It's just more convienient to zip from mining node to node and collect ore much quicker than it would be with a non epic on my DK (up to 2,300 gold towards the 5k it will be for epic flying, however).

I love the death knight talent entitled "On a Pale Horse" that increases mounted movement speed by 20%. And the unholy presence that lets a deathknight move considerably faster on the ground as well is quite nice. I imagine once I get the money saved for epic flying on my dk, the paladin will be shelved.

In past MMOs I have also seemed to gravitate towards characters that get around faster. In Lineage 2 I played the rogue archetype which gets bonus movement speed (faster if you eventually be come the ranger specialization). And in that game you spend most of the game running and running and running (no flight paths or when I played, no mounts of any kind. Good Lord that game was terrible.)

And in Vanguard I played a halfling bard. Just for fun I decided to link a video demonstrating just HOW FAST a bard could move in that game. Although the character in this video is human, it's still good. Just imagine a halfling moving that fast. I swear it was like the cartoon legs you'd see on Wiley Coyote. ZOOOOOoooooom!

Another terrible game, but man was it fun to zip around the world like that.

Back to the WoW discussion though, as both my wife and Quint near crossing the level barrier to entering the dark portal, I'm curious to see what the continued game play will bring.

Will Quint drop the old world quest and rejoice in the new found xp and sweet sweet gear of the outlands?


Will my wife actually begin to quest instead of contsant dungeon grinds?


Will I flip flop my choice of tanks again? (gimme a break, we're not even 80 yet or raiding!)


Stay tuned right here until next week. Same time, same place...

When hopefully we'll hear a post from Quint about his impressions of the difference in game design he can notice in moving from Azeroth to Outlands.

nana nana nana nana~ Con-Text!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Class Pride

During one of my lunch breaks last week I happened to stumble on a thread on the official WoW forums talking about things that make players who play warrior proud. It struck me as interesting. Why? Because in all my experience playing I had not really felt that since playing my rogue.

And to be honest, I did feel that at bit while playing my warrior.

Quintalan (Redbeard) can attest to my recent (more like constant) internal battle between playing my death knight or warrior. Both are fun. I LOVE the tanking style and flexibility of the warrior. I also think they have the strongest tool set of the tanks.

On the other hand, the death knights do decent damage and and pretty fun to play too. It's nice to have an AOE to throw down and lock aggro in with blood boil.

So what's holding me back from playing my warrior you ask?

Tauren. Yup, they may look cool and have the best racials for a PVE warrior, but I can't help it. I just don't like Taurens. Here's the thing: When playing a Tauren the rest of the world is smaller. Having to dismount every stinking time I want to enter a building, or ride the elevator in UC is such a pain. However, being so large is nice because your weapons are HUGE! Rawr! Right? But being a Tauren player they just appear normal size in relation to your own character. Big...normal size deal.

The main thing that really bugs me playing a Tauren is this: When you zoom your camera in all the way you end up focusing where the height of a normal player would stand. So what this does is offset the camera lower than your character's head. Which means if your fighting anything smaller than your character you have to pivot the camera to the side or up enough to see what's going on. That aggravates the hell out of me for some reason. And playing a Tauren pretty much means EVERYTHING is smaller than your character.

Yesterday was the Day of the Dead event in Warcraft, and one of the nifty things you could do was get a 12 hour costume buff that turned you into an undead guy / girl in a tuxedo. This gave me a chance to realize that I actually REALLY liked the animations of the sword & board undead. You could easily spot the difference from a dodge or parry to a block, and the animations actually looked like you're doing the actions. What I mean is, when you block an attack you actually raise your shield and block the attack, or you raise your weapon and parry the attack. Maybe at this point I just don't care for cows enough that I didn't notice those types of animations before on my Tauren.

So getting back to the first thing I posted about, I would like to sum it all up with the following snippet from Achtung Panzercow.

"I am the Warrior.

When you see me, I will, most likely, not be attired formally. I will be encased in my steel. It will be dirty, bloody, and battered. I do not have a quick tongue or eloquent speech. I know nothing of the manners of the King’s court, or the ettiquette of the formal ball.

I am known by many names. Tank. Meatshield. Fighter. Brawler. Corpse.

I am the Warrior.

I have not the capability, nor the inclination, to hide. I cannot strike from stealth with devastating blows, then fade into the darkness. I cannot incinerate a foe from twenty paces away. I cannot deal death from a distance, safe from the return attacks of my enemy. In order to kill, I must close with the enemy. I see his eyes. I smell his breath. I taste his fear. And he tastes mine.

I cannot bend Nature to do my bidding. I cannot tap into the Nether and force it to do what I command. I cannot study the arcane and master it to my control. I command nought but my mind, my body, and my will. It is by those, and those alone, that I stand or fall.

I have no friends on my journey. No walkers of the void, summoned from the Nether as servants and bodyguards. No loyal beasts of the plains or woods, to defend me and comfort me in my pain. My sole companion is my weapon. I must care for it better than any hunter has ever cared for his beast. I must master it more than any warlock has ever mastered his demon. Without me, it is useless. Without it, I am nothing.

I cannot heal. I cannot shield. I cannot call upon the gods and see my prayers answered. I call to the spirits of my ancestors in the heat of battle, and they are silent. My only ability to protect is to offer myself, my blood and bone and sinew, as a sacrifice. To draw the attacks of our foes. To take the blows that would kill a lesser being, and continue to fight on.

I cannot kill with the speed and grace of the rogue, the suddenness and shock of the hunter, or the flamboyance and power of the mage. When I kill, it is a slow business. Slow and bloody for all concerned, myself included. I fight on, pummeled and battered so that my companions may receive the glory of the kill and the wreaths of victory. If I die and they yet live, it is an expected sacrifice.

I come in all races, all sizes. I fight under a thousand flags, on a million battlefields. I am dismissed by the highborn, scorned by the noble, lectured by the priest, and forgotten by the peasant. Until the time when the trumpets of battle sound, and those who would destroy them come forth. And then the cry goes up…”Where, oh where, is the Warrior?”

Pray to your gods that I continue to answer that call.

Few do answer the call. Fewer still survive. It is a long and hard road, this way of the Warrior. Along it lie pain, and fear, and death. Scant rewards and scanter gratitude. At the end, for most, is an anonymous grave on some windblown battlefield. If they are lucky.

And yet, I fight on. I do not even know why. Perhaps for glory, perhaps for fame, perhaps for money, perhaps for my country, perhaps for my family. Perhaps it is simply all I know how to do. But fight I will. Whether you appreciate it or not. Whether you even notice it or not. I will be out there, on the battle lines. Fighting. Killing. Dying.

I am the Warrior.

Death is my business.

Be it yours…or mine."

So I'm going back to my roots. My real roots. Undead warrior. My first character was an Undead warrior and I never got him past level 34 after re-rolling to a rogue.

On Being 'Tarren Milled'

Murtaugh, his wife, and I play Horde on the Stormscale PvP server. (If you see Quintalan or Gdaan poking around somewhere, that's me.) When you reach your upper-teens/low-20s as a Blood Elf and you venture out to the Undercity, you're given the "Report to Tarren Mill" quest from the Sindorei representative to the Forsaken. Being a noob, my first thought was to take it easy and work my way through Silverpine Forest first, and then make my way to Tarren Mill once I'd gone up a few more levels.

(Now, in the sake of honesty, I do use Quest Tracker, and the arrows to Tarren Mill from the Undercity go through the Western Plaguelands. I did venture into there as a 25th level Paladin, and promptly found out why it was NOT a good idea to go that way. Like I said, I'm a noob.)

I finally ventured to Hillsbrad Foothills and Tarren Mill somewhere around 27-28th level, which was my first exposure to the Contested areas. Naturally, if you're traveling on foot/horseback from Silverpine Forest, you have to pass several Alliance controlled areas. I kept expecting Alliance players to see me and come streaming out from their base to lay some serious smackdown, but I arrived in Tarren Mill without incident.

Ah, I thought. That worked out well.

I got the flight point for Tarren Mill squared away and logged off, confident that I'd be ready the next night to handle some initial quests in the area.

Things started out well enough, but when I was turning in one of the first quests you get (basically killing some bears in the area), all of a sudden I heard a "zap" and the release spirit window popped up.

"What the..."

Then I saw them. There were several of them -at least 5- and they were all well above my character's level into the "??" range. All Alliance guys. (I say guys because the characters were all male- your guess is as good as mine as to what their real gender was.) They were all having a grand time zapping everyone in sight, jumping around, and in general looking like a bunch of punks who deserved a visit from Mr. T and his Night Elf Mohawk. Considering I'd seen the results of such destruction in The Ghostlands when everyone in Tranquillien was zapped by a couple of '??' Level Alliance guys, I knew what to expect.

Okay, I just need to wait and they'll split, then I can respawn and that'll be that.

Only it didn't work like that. I waited five minutes, thinking they were gone -well, I couldn't see them anymore- and respawned. Ten seconds later I was chewing on my lip, staring at the release spirit window again.

I'd been Tarren Milled.

Murtaugh, when he heard about my misadventure, laughed and informed me that was why he didn't typically go to Tarren Mill when he was leveling. "That happens all the time," he more-or-less said.

"Yeah," I said. "I noticed. Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel."

Obviously I wasn't worth it from an honor standpoint -I was way too low level for them to get any honor from it- it was pure maliciousness.

I came from that experience having learned two things: always watch your back, and Alliance people can be real dicks.

Since then, I've had some run-ins with Alliance people outside of Warsong Gulch -in Stranglethorn and Feralas, most notably- but in those cases the fights began with comparably leveled opponents. Sure, Murtaugh tagged along in Stranglethorn for protection in case a higher level "friend" of the Alliance opponent made an appearance (he did), but the fight was comparably even. It was remarkably 'jerk free', compared to Tarren Mill.

There was one time in Alterac where I was fighting some Syndicate personnel, and all of a sudden the dreaded '??' Level Alliance person suddenly entered my field of vision, circled me on his mount three times, paused, and then continued on. I got the distinct impression of "I'm going to let you live, buddy, but I could have had your ass whenever I wanted."

Gee, thanks for making my heart beat a little faster.

The uber-level Alliance person I encountered in Harathi while I was trying to complete a Strombrad quest wasn't so nice, however. He simply butchered me twice while he was apparently hunting for something. I grumbled, respawned, and got the hell out of dodge while I could.

Then there was the encounter I had today.

I was taking a late lunch and logged on to complete a few side quests. (Hey, 6000 XP is 6000 XP to a 50th Level Paladin.) Riding through the Hinterlands, I stopped at one of the troll areas (the one with the big Mayanesque pyramids) to go kill some spiders for an Apothecary in Tarren Mill. While I was there, I noticed a quest marker, so I ran up a pyramid and killed the three or four trolls at the top to find the quest hovering over another troll. Jumping down to where the troll was, I was about to talk to him when a flash of another monster caught my eye, popping up directly behind the quest NPC.

Great, I grumbled, another troll I missed.

I didn't need this; I only had about 20 minutes left to play and I wanted to be in and out quickly. Without much thought, I clicked and sent Quintalan to go slice and dice.

Then I noticed the '??' Level marker.

Oh crap. I am so dead. I actually got in a hit or two before I yanked Quintalan off of the female Night Elf (either Night Elf or Human, I can't remember) and waited for the end. I was about to get Tarren Milled again.

A piece of action popped up in my screen. "XXX says we are NOT going there."

I swallowed, pushing my heart back into my chest from where it had been lodged in my throat. I quickly typed out "mistake" and pressed Enter.

A further piece of action popped up. "XXX smiles."

And that was that.

There really isn't any moral to the story, outside of the obvious: don't let your initial impressions color your perceptions for the rest of the game. Not all of the people on your side are fantastic people, like the Horde person who decided to start a fight with some Alliance people in Booty Bay when I was wandering through (you're making the rest of us look bad, buddy; take it outside of those neutral cities), but neither is the other side composed of Grade A jerkoffs, either.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Tuesday Ponderings

This is what happens when you wake up early and don't feel quite well enough to go run on an elliptical machine for 1/2 hour.
  • Who'd have thought that the Arathi Highlands would be more deadly to a 45th Level Blood Elf Paladin than Loch Modan? I was attempting to finish a quest involving the Syndicate when I was relentlessly tormented by ?? level Night Elf Hunter apparently working on a similar quest. After getting zapped twice, I said to hell with this and decided to hunt for the Flight Point in the Badlands. That, of course, meant that I'd be passing through Alliance controlled Loch Modan. Naturally, nothing happened to me while I explored the entire area. Go figure.
  • PvP has a lot in common with Laser Tag. Of course, the two PvP areas I played in were either Capture and Hold (Arathi) or Capture the Flag (Warsong Gulch), but the emotions and intensity are similar to those bouts of Laser Tag I played as a teen way too many years ago.
  • What works in PvE/solo questing does not work in PvP. There are some commands you simply aren't going to use too much because they take too much time in a PvP environment. Exorcism vs. Holy Shock; hmm, instant vs. having to wait it out? In PvP, if you wait you'll probably end up being zapped by a random Hunter's shot.
  • If you're a Paladin in a group with a Mage and a Shaman, you're the tank by default. Doesn't matter if you don't have a tank spec, someone's got to go into the front line and absorb damage. And it ain't gonna be the Mage.
  • A Mage, a Priest and a Warlock get in a fight with some bad dudes. Who gets to play "damage magnet?" I figure it has to be Warlock as they have a minion already, the Mage can launch broad ranged attacks from distance, and you don't want your Rez/Healer meal ticket to bite it.
  • One of these days I'm going to try to make a dash to Light's Hope Chapel in Eastern Plaguelands so I can get the flight point there. It will be nice to take a flight from Silvermoon all the way to the Badlands without having to jump through hoops getting to the Undercity first.

Monday, October 19, 2009


So I made a real effort this last weekend to push my death knight's tradeskills ahead.

First off, let me say that one major drawback to playing a death knight is the fact that you don't have a chance to level any profession as you go. You are suddenly thrust into the world at level 58 and have a lot of making up to do as far as your main professions go.

So here we go...

Cooking is at 322 (I know, right?) Cooking? Who levels cooking? I never have. Which is exactly why I wanted to this time around. I'm up to the point of cooking up any strange critters I find in outlands. That's right. If it's dead and has meat it's goin in the fryin' pan.

Fishing is at 128. I haven't spent too much time on this, but this is another skill I have never bothered to level before. It's still kind of boring, but at least there's achievements now. Hey, I caught Old Crafty, have you?

First aid is up to outlands coth drops. Nothing special here.

Mining is at 160. Also nothing special here. I chose not to mine nodes on this caracter, instead using my level 80 pally to crusade aura around mining the necessary materials for blacksmithing.

And here we are at Blacksmiting: 350!!! With the majority of the materials farmed by myself in one weekend.

Oy! That's a lot of mining.

In fact, to advance this far I've used roughly:
133 Rough Stone
190 Copper Bar
24 Coarse Stone
5 Silver Bar
120 Bronze Bar
150 Heavy Stone
5 Gold Bar
230 Iron Bar
35 Green Dye
50 Steel Bar
5 Truesilver Bar
60 Solid Stones
150 Mageweave Cloth
320 Mithril Bar
20 Dense Stone
430 Thorium Bar
10 Star Ruby
155 Fel Iron Bar
10 Netherweave Cloth
70 Adamantite Bar

I'm up to the point now, however, that I'll be needing cobalt bars from northrend to advance. And I'm not going to bother with that until I'm level 65 and can advance to the next tier of skill level for Blacksmithing.

Which finally brings me to my point of this all. After having spent all the time I did finding all those materials to level a tradeskill it really did feel more like a job IRL. /rant Especially when you get to the point of not having any new recipies to learn, you only need two more points until you advance to the next tier of materials, and the only current thing you can make is of the yellow skill level so you farm up enough materials to make 8 of said yellow items and get ONE POINT!!! SERIOUSLY? WHO THE HELL THOUGHT THIS UP!! /end rant

Blizzard should make leveling tradeskills in the old world easier. Smithing up to about the point of using mithril bars went pretty quick and easy. Then you get to the point where you need a boat load of materials just to get one point. For instance to make the Thorium helmet you need like 16 Thorium bars and a star ruby. The going rate for those materials on the auction house is roughly 50 gold. 50 Gold for just one point in your chosen profession?! Hence the reason I farmed most everything I needed.

Seriously Blizz, just reduce the number of bars needed per recipie towards the later end of tradeskills in vanilla wow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PUG Life

Alright... I'll start this off by saying I'm a tank. Pretty much what ever class I'm playing I seem to gravitate towards the tank role.

I realize that by not being in a guild currently I have to suffer the fate of finding pick up groups (pug) to run dungeons my level. Why must the random pug always be such a headache?

Group composition:

Level 70 Warrior - Protection Tank Spec (myself)
Level 70 Deathknight - Blood DPS spec
Level 70 Shaman - Enhancement DPS spec
Level 70 Mage - Arcane (I think?) DPS spec
Level 70 Druid- Restoration Healing Spec


Utgarde Keep

Here I am. My first Northred dungeon on my warrior. I have high hopes for this run. I remember back to a few weeks ago I did one night of Outlands dungeon runs with a group similarly composed to my current one and we did very well.

First few pulls went ok. I noticed the mage pulling aggro a bit so I placed Vigalance http://thottbot.com/ta148 on the mage which took care of that.

The run generally went pretty smoothly up to the first boss. The one pull where you get two spell casters and two melee mobs to fight was rough. The shaman died and reincarnated himself and the death knight died also. I felt bad for letting this happen and apologized to them.

We killed the first boss successfuly, though losing the deathknight again.

On our way up to the second boss I started feeling more comfortable with the rotation of using my abilities again and started watching my group members. They were attacking who ever was closest to them with out a care in the world.

Trying to maintain aggro on all of the mobs in the pack pulls was a complete mess by the end of the run with the each of the three dps picking their own mob to try to kill.

I'm pretty sure I know how to aoe tank. Charge in, thunderclap, back pedal a bit to group up mobs and unleash a shockwave followed by a demoralizing shout, and then a succession of tab targeting to apply devastate and cleave when rage allows.

I was like a mad man trying to maintain aggro on all of the seperate targets at once.

Now two realizations hit me here:

1) Why oh why can't PUGs assist the tank?

I think I know. Paladins and DeathKnight tanks have lovely lovely AOEs that give them great front loaded threat on the various targets. So much so that you can just, that's right.... set it and forget it. As having played both a level 80 Paladin and Deathknight as tank specs I cannot recall having to worry about group pulls pretty much ever.

Warriors can get this too, but it requires a bit more work because you have to make sure you position your shockwave to hit all the targets. Now being lower level I realize I don't have all the tools in my back of tricks yet to help assist grouping the targets up, but ARGH was this frustrating.

2) Perhaps leveling my DeathKnight alt (once the wife catches up) will actually prove less frustrating that the constant struggle I would face in my current predicament of haivng to find PUGs.

Why, then, does playing my deathknight feel like cheating somehow?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hypothetical Question Time

The other day when I was putzing around and completing a few quests around Thousand Needles, Murtaugh and I were keeping a running conversation going. (He was over in one of the higher level areas; more than high enough to be instant death for a 31st level Paladin.) Anyway, during the course of the conversation he asked me whether I'd be playing the Horde if he and Missy weren't already playing that faction when they invited me to join. I rather quickly tossed back the reply that I'd probably be playing an Elf of some sort, whether Horde or Alliance, and gave as my reasoning that I've played enough Humans in my past that I'd like to try something different.

After his query fermented in my brain for a while, I thought it deserved a better answer than that.

Of course, the flippant answer would be that I wouldn't be playing WoW at all; I had no real desire to go play an MMO before being invited to do so. The 'why' of that is simple: MMOs are not what I typically play when I play computer games; I'm much more in the mold of the turn based strategy player. Civ is probably my favorite game, but the Total War series is also damn good. The old Master of Orion was great, and it sounds like Galactic Civilizations II is following in the same vein. Sure, I'd played computer RPGs before, but not MMOs.

Now, putting all that aside for a moment, what would I play if I decided to try out WoW on my own? My RPG history suggests a Human Priest or a Human Warrior, but in reality I'd kind of tired on playing Humans. The natural extensions of a D&D player interested in fighting would be Dwarven or Orc Warrior, but I wanted something different. The Elves of both sides are appealing to me, mainly because they're different from Humans but not too different to play well. (Yes, I slip into FTF RPG mode when I consider characters to play; kind of hard to disassociate myself from something I've been playing since 1980 or so.) The thing about Elves is that, well, they're popular. Blame the Lord of the Rings movies, the Cult of Drizzt, all sorts of generic fantasy worlds, or even D&D, but Elves are hot. For a guy who prides himself on marching to the beat of a different drummer, following the pack wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

Two things made me stick to my guns: just because everybody else does it doesn't mean that I shouldn't, and in an MMO you can make your own path. Do your own thing, don't be an ass, and you'll be fine.

Now, the question becomes Horde or Alliance? If I'd have just seen pictures of the races and made decisions that way, I'd probably have chosen Alliance. Come on, I'm programmed just like everybody else to think that the side where Humans, Dwarves, Elves and Gnomes are on is the "good guys" side. When Murtaugh and his wife invited me to join, however, I took the time to read a bit of the history of the races. Blizzard did a great job of making the backstories neutral enough to keep it from being slanted toward one faction. There were enough bad and good deeds all the way around that kept one particular faction from being easily defined as "the good guys". Digging down, you find the stereotypes of the Horde races don't fit; sure, they don't like the Alliance, but that by itself doesn't make them evil. (Okay, the Forsaken don't help themselves much with their tendencies toward eradicating Humans, I'll grant you that, but given the Scarlet Brotherhood you can understand the source of their dislike.) In fact, I find the Native American slant that Blizzard built into the Tauren fascinating. It's perfect in it's own way, taking what would be a stereotypical Minotaur and turning it into something else.

I guess the answer to the faction question isn't simple; I still might have chosen Alliance, but I'm comfortable with the Horde. Except for the Forsaken; even the rest of the Blood Elf NPCs seem to be a bit, um, uncertain about their erstwhile allies, but they play nice for the time being. The Horde seems to be a good fit for me right now, and I'm fine with playing it. While I might try an Alliance character later for comparison, I'm fine with playing Horde at the moment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The core question...

Hard or soft?

There seems to be a few schools of thought when it comes to WoW players. You've got your die hard raiders that are all about getting top of the line gear with the best possible group compositions and raid spots all figured out.

At the other end of the spectrum you've got the casuals. The people who are doing 5 man dungeons for badge gear and pvp'ing for gladiator gear. They'll occasionally do a raid if they can find a decent PUG (pick up group).

This game seems to support both options, but leans towards the first. In a game that's driven by gear, the top gear always wins out.

Classic WOW:

When molten core came out and the very first raid dungeon was introduced into the game, our small guild ended up having to merge to attempt to tackle the 40 man content. I still remember the very first pull in the dungeons. The very first pull of the dungeon and my tier 1 bracers dropped randomly and I actually won them! From then on I was hooked. We steadily made progress into the core into that lava ridden cave and eventually got burned... out.

Yep, I ended up retiring from raiding right when we were just starting to conquer An'Quiraj.

The requirements of being adequately prepared for the raids were expensive and required a decent amount of time spend just farming every week for materials I would need.

Burning Crusade:
Brand new 10 man content! Oh man was I excited for this expansion, flying mounts, content that didn't require 40 people, and man the gear was such a huge upgrade from the old world stuff (even though my collection of level 60 raid gear lasted me a while).

Once I realized, however, that you still had to do larger raids to get all of your tier set I was not too happy. Our small guild of friends didn't grow much beyond what was required to just do Kara and we ended up topping out there. I spend most of my time in BC doing PVP and getting completely frustrated with being a healer.

Again, new 10 man content with a harder 25 man version released. Awesome! Once again the guild reforms with most of our players from BC. We progress through all of the 10 man content including Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, Vaults, and Eye of Eternity.

Next thing you know, the guild is looking at merging with another guild to successfuly complete 25 man content.

You can't stop running the 10 man content for people to gear up to compete in the 25 man content. Again, this led to major burnout as I was the main tank and had been tanking EVERYTHING since level 70.

Moral of the story? Find a group that you will be happy with. In the end, I came to the realization that I didn't care about getting the 25 man gear and accomplishing the 10 content can actually be harder than the 25 man. And I still got to see the content and didn't feel I was being left out of anything.

With the constant lure of shiny new gear, can a guild sustain themselves at 10 man content alone?

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Past vs. The Present

When I first began playing D&D, I wanted to be a fighter. You know, so you could fight with a sword, kill things and in general act like one of those knights you'd see on the movies as a kid. The kid who introduced me to D&D -a boy named Rob- had his own fighter whom he'd so eloquently named Sir Robert, and boy did I want that.

So there we were, rolling up our first characters. He had the old blue box D&D set, so our choices were along the lines of Dwarf, Elf, Mystic, Fighter, Cleric, Thief. You probably know the drill: roll 3 six-sided dice once each time for Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma. Well, I rolled an 18 for Wisdom, and Rob told me "Oh, that's good. You should be a Cleric; they need high Wisdom."

"A Cleric?"

"Yeah, they're like a priest."

Images of the priests at church walking around in a dungeon fighting dragons appeared in my head, and I passed. "I want to be a fighter," I told Rob.

He shrugged and we set my character up as a not-too-strong (but very wise) fighter.

That character, Sir Michael, didn't last too long when the first room we went into had ::cue dramatic music:: 5 Red Dragons!

Oh well.

However, somewhere along the line, I began to warm to the idea of being a Cleric. Especially when I found out that no, it wasn't like Father Jim going around blessing people, but more like Friar Tuck (without all the rotundity). That, I could deal with. When I started playing D&D in college, I soon discovered that "Cleric" was the sort of character class that nobody really wanted to play but every group needed to have one of, so I bit the bullet and became the group Cleric. In fact, in the current game I play, I'm still a Cleric, although I have double dipped and have an Elven Wizard as well (it was another class that nobody wanted to play, so you know the drill).

I think you can see where this is going.

When I first downloaded WoW and set up a character, what class did I choose? The Priest, naturally. As I inquired about it, I was warned that the Priest class in WoW is a bit different than that in older editions of D&D. (D&D 4E has the Cleric set up more like the D&D 3E and WoW Paladin, but I digress.) I quickly discovered that yeah, the Priest is different. No armor -only cloth for you, bucko- more heavily reliant upon spells, and best when attacking a single enemy with spells at one time. The WoW Priest is far more fragile than any D&D version, and is typically right at the back of the line with the Mage and the Warlock. You won't see my Priest invoking the name of his Deity and charging into battle anytime soon.

Do I like the priest?

Well, yes and no.

Oh, I like putzing around with the spells a bit, and the Priest seems to be a popular character when groups are forming ("Looking 4 Priest 4 Grp 4 Ragefire Canyon"), but the Priest is definitely the Yang to the Yin of the Mage. That takes some getting used to, and soloing with a Priest means I have to stop a lot to heal/regain mana. For a guy who's used to charging into battle and inspiring the troops with a few well timed invocations, that can be frustrating. (As a contrast to the WoW Priest, early in my current D&D 3E Cleric's career, he bull rushed a group of goblins who were about to overwhelm one of the party's Rangers. Stupid and dangerous, yes, but it succeeded, and so the Cleric now has it in his head that he can do that and it'll just work for him. Playing a character from an pampered upper class background can be fun that way.)

So, I put the Priest on a shelf for a while, and decided to try the Paladin. Murtaugh here mentioned that the Paladin is probably closer to what I'm used to playing as a Cleric, and he's right to a big extent. The Paladin can get in there, invoke the Gods, mix it up, and still take enough of a licking to keep moving on without much healing or mana regeneration. Of course, the Paladin very similar to the D&D 3E Paladin (and is somewhere in between the 4E Cleric and Paladin), so if you've ever played the part of the classic Holy Warrior, this is the class for you. Considering the amount of damage the Paladin can deal out, I have to wonder how much more physical damage a Warrior of comparable level can inflict.

I think that I'm going to have the Paladin as my primary class, but I won't mind dragging out the Priest ever so often for a spin. I also have to admit I'm curious about the Hunter class, as I don't know anyone personally who plays one, but the WoW version of the Ranger does have a certain appeal to a guy who likes to solo a bit.

Hmm... Maybe a Tauren Hunter...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Redbeard Checks In

I'm the other half of this endeavor, the WoW Noob.

Although I'm new to WoW and other MMO's, I've a long history of gaming, both electronic and otherwise. As a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's, I played all sorts of boardgames, D&D, and a boatload of computer games. Yes, I did play the original Colossal Cave Adventure (courtesy of a friend's brother-in-law's computer access), Zork, and the old Infocom text adventure games. When I went away to college, I got exposed to the Commodore 64 and The Bard's Tale, the Ultima series of RPGs, and all sorts of other games of the late 80's/early 90's.

While I tend to play the turn based strategy games such as Civ, I have played and enjoyed the RPGs that use the Bioware engine: Baldur's Gate I/II, Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights.

From all that I entered into the world of MMO's a couple of months ago when I was invited to try out WoW.

As a IT person with a programming background, I've been tremendously impressed with the quality of work in WoW.

As a player... It's definitely more than I expected. Far more. You can do your solo thing if you want to, you can play with a group, you can roleplay, you can just bash heads if that's your thing. The system is flexible and big enough that it's great to simply immerse yourself in and play. I can easily see how people can get so addicted to this game, as it's a helluva lot of fun just to explore.

My angle on this blog is going to be from the standpoint of the noob, but also one who's just enjoying himself along the way. (I do have this anal tendency to want to finish whatever quest I picked up, no matter if it's gone grey or not, but hopefully that won't prove too much of a distraction.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Introducin Murtaugh

I've been playing MMO games since about the time Lineage 2 came out, and have been playing computer games for much longer than that. The thing that really got me into the whole RPG scene was Neverwinter Nights. It was a great game. The server vault option on multiplayer servers is what led me to MMOs.

My history of MMOs is as follows:

Lineage 2
World of Warcraft
Guild Wars
Age of Conan
Warhammer Online

I mostly have played melee characters with, up until recently, a focus on damage dealing classes. I'll always have a soft spot for the rogue archetype, but I've found that I really have been enjoying the heavy plate wearing tank archetype quite a bit.

My current active characters in wow are:
Level 69 Warrior - active, although leveling slowly
Level 59 DK - barely active, as you can tell from the level

Retired characters:
Level 80 Rogue - Raided Molten core, Blackwing lair & An'Quiraj at level 60 - Raided Naxx 10 & 25, OS, Eye & Vaults with him

Level 80 Paladin - Was the guild's main tank through most of the progress in Wrath

Level 80 Death Knight - Got caught up in the whole... Ooh, shiny! phase of death knights and found I didn't particularly care for the class mechanics when it came to tanking & went back to paladin

So there's my brief history and MMO Resume as it were.

I hope to provide an experienced view point here and bring some insight to the random topics we'll be discussing.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this side project will go!

Kicking things off

Hopefully this will be a fun project to talk about gaming, specifically the World of Warcraft from two points of view.

Recently my wife and myself returned to Warcraft and one of my wife's livejournal friends got suckered into trying the game. As we all know it's a slippery slope and he's well on his way.

Having somebody come into a game that's going on 5 years old and having a somewhat innocent (for the lack of a better term) view on the game got me curious about starting a blog with two points of view on various WoW topics.

So, to kick things off, I thought a general synopsis of race and class balances across the various servers would be interesting.

Using warcraftrealm.com's census tools we can see some interesting trends. This is showing 3,010,592 total characters. This data is only that which has been submitted by specific people using an addon on that tracks the census, however it still serves to give a basic snapshot of the population and various trends.

Level 80 population by race

DraeneiDwarfGnomeHumanNight Elf

Blood ElfOrcTaurenTrollUndead

Level 80 population by class (both factions)

Death KnightDruidHunterMagePaladin

So what sort of conclusions can we draw from this?

Alliance players must lack imagination. Who wants to join a fantasy world and create a human?
Also, you can see how much love the dwarves and gnomes get. Even the new guys on the block are more popular than them. I guess people like space goats.

Horde players got a, as my wife puts it, "pretty" race and they're all over it. The newest race to the Horde also holds the highest population. I was not surprised by the Troll population. Nobody likes Trolls, seriously. I was surprised to see that the Orc population was that low in comparison to the others.

Now we get to the classes and no surprise there. You guessed it. Death knights are the king of the castle currently. And why shouldn't they be? They're the new fancy class. Also, as a side note, 41% of the DK population seems to be either Human or Blood Elf.

What would be an interesting chart to see is how many main spec varieties there are of the different classes. In other words, how many healers, tanks and dps are floating around out there.