Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Think I Misplaced My Ovaries

Under the heading of 'bad assumptions', I had one of those WoW moments last week where I can't decide to be amused, offended, or baffled.

Last Wednesday I had the day off but the kids were at school and my wife was at work.  Woot!  WoW time!  Well, Blizz decided to perform the downtime on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so I got a late start on any goofing around.  I finally got logged into A-52 early in the afternoon, and Neve quickly got into first a Dark Portal and then a Magister's Terrace run.*

The group was chatty enough, which was good because we wiped repeatedly on MgT.  I'm pretty sure that it had something to do with the three Death Knights in the group, two of which didn't know what to do at all.  I described them in guild chat as Larry, Moe, and Curly, and you can just imagine the ineptitude at play.  Sometime after the third or fourth wipe, we took a short break to repair our gear.

"Do we have enough time to finish this?" one of the DKs asked.

"Sure!  I'm on leave!"  "I can.  School's on break."  "Same here."

"I'm fine," I replied after checking the clock.  "The kids don't get off of school for a couple more hours."

That announcement kind of brought the others up short.

"That's cool!  I wish my mom played WoW."  "Same here."

I'll be honest.  I didn't know what to say.

I know plenty of women who play WoW (it was Soul's wife who got me into playing in the first place), so I don't think it unusual.  I know moms who play during the day, too.  However, these kids made the very incorrect leap from "kids at school" to "mom", and I felt I ought to set the record straight.

At the same time, I wondered whether it would do any good to say anything.  Any striving for accuracy aside, was it such a bad thing to leave them thinking that I was a woman?  There wasn't anything resembling flirting going on, and there definitely wasn't any preferential treatment my way.  The first rule of WoW is that you don't know who is on the other end of the computer unless you get on Vent or Mumble; making assumptions in an MMO can get you in hot water. 

In the end, I decided to just not say anything and just keep running the instance.  You could argue that it was dishonest to let them believe otherwise --and I'd not disagree with you, either-- but what kept running through my mind was that I play with the people they imagined me to be, and that maybe it was an eye opening experience for them.  If there was more asshatery going on --as opposed to ineptitude-- I might have responded differently, but I figured there was no sense in busting their bubble over that.

*I finished up the BC Dungeon Achievement at-level, since I know that I probably won't be able to solo these later instances as a Mage until L85, and MGT probably not at all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Cataclysmic Gripe

Even though I haven't reached the Cata zones yet, that hasn't stopped me from three gripes about the expansion:

Oopsie About that Flying Thing

With Old World flying, you can fly everywhere in (non-BG) Azeroth.  Except for the BC starting areas and Quel'Danas, that is.

How ironic is that?  The expansion that introduced flying mounts into Azeroth is the one place where you can find Old World flying blocked.  Others might not find that much of a big deal, given the empty shells that Silvermoon and The Exodar are, but those places are special to me.  My big three toons are two Blood Elves and a Draenei, and I was really looking forward to pulling out my Dragonhawk and going flying in Eversong Forest.  Hell, I've been known to take the flight point back and forth from Tranquillien just so I can enjoy the view.

I know that Blizz wasn't planning on revisiting the BC and Northrend zones for a little while, but they at least put in flight points in Azuremist and Eversong.  The least they could do is enable flying there too.

Okay, Here's The Situation

If you haven't started a Goblin character, you ought to do it just to check out the starting zone.  It is unlike anything else in WoW, and that includes previous winner, Azuremist Isle.  It is steampunk taken to a Tim Burton Gotham-esque degree, and has lots of awesome in it.  (The Pleasure Palace has a putt-putt course in it.  How awesome is that?)

My complaint, you ask?

Blizz has a tendency to put in pop culture references everywhere, and I don't mind that.  Really.  But did we have to have a zone and a race (Goblins) that is The Godfather crossed with Jersey Shore?  It's like every bad Italian American stereotype coming home to roost.  And did we really need to see Snookie's hairdo on female Goblins?  As if we don't see her on the news enough, we now get to see her on Azeroth.  It almost makes you long for the days of Harris Pilton.

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi -- WoW Goblin in Disguise?

You're Taking me to Where?

I don't mind the snuffing of the Worgen.  Really.  I don't have a dog, so it took me a few minutes to realize what it was; once I figured it wasn't some bizarre sound from an instance that I never noticed because I had the sound down, that is.  The over-the-top cockney accent doesn't bother me either.  If you've got kids and you still like Mary Poppins, you can handle the Worgen accents.  What bothers me is the face that the female Worgen toons have.  With those eyes and that expression, they look like you just told them they're going to the vet to get spayed.

EtA:  Added Snooki's pic so the people who thankfully aren't exposed to the show can see what I'm talking about.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holy Crap!? Did that just happen?

I had an incredible stretch of good fortune in Warcraft this past weekend, and I thought I'd brag share it with you all.

I saved up enough coming into the expansion that I had my major expenses out of the way.  I had already bought my master flying the first day it was available (screw you, Blizz, for lowering the cost by a grand a week after I bought it).  And I still had a good chunk of cash going into the expansion.  I'm now only one zone away and only about 40 quests away from having loremaster of cataclysm done, and that was a good chunk of money I'd saved from vendoring quest rewards.

I've also gotten my JC up high enough to start selling a cut blue gem on the AH and made some nice cash before quite a few others people now have the +60 stam gem.

Titansteel is also ridiculously cheep right now.  I snagged 12 bars and two arctic furs for about 500 gold, and then went farming for 80 bars of cobalt.  And I went back to questing for a while until I had over 12500 gold, and contacted a guild engineer and HAD MY VERY OWN CHOPPER MADE!

Yeah, yeah ground mounts are mostly useless now - but shut up!  Yer just jealous. 

So I go back to questing to remake some money to pay for repairs and the like when lo-and-behold I looted an 85 BOE epic.  My jaw dropped - and sunk even lower when I saw the going rate for BOE epics on the AH. 

I netted myself a cool 18,500 gold and promptly bought a travelers tundra mammoth too!


And after questing a bit more, I'm back up to roughly 3500 gold again!

And I hit a nice milestone too - Cataclysmically Superior!

What an awesome weekend.  I'm still in disbelief.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

True Stories

The past 48 hours in WoW have produced some moments that make you shake your head.

Ding and Drop in Unique Fashion

Tomakan was sitting at L67, only two bars away, so I figured I'd dial up Alterac Valley and push him over the top that way.  He did make it to L68, but he got to be witness to a crash and burn of an AV run in epic fashion.

The BG started off fine, with the Alliance quickly capturing the middle towers and killing Galv.  We also defended our own towers and took the mines.  Soon, there were only the two Frostwolf towers and Drek's homebase left for the Horde to defend.  In terms of reinforcements, we were up 380 to 110.

Then the bottom dropped out.

The Horde turtled in the home base and eventually pushed out to a chokepoint south which we simply could not break.  We still seemed to be in control, being up 130 to 40, but then a few of their Rogues slipped out from the firefight and began killing our reinforcements wholesale.  A few people chased them down, but a few more Rogues slipped through and the process started all over again. 

People in BG chat were shrieking at us to go around the chokepoint, as we didn't have much of a chance to kill off reinfocements, but those people didn't realize there was a second wave of Hordies behind the first to make sure we didn't do any damage.  Believe me, I tried.

So our numbers dropped.  110 to 40.  90 to 40.  60 to 37.  40 to 37.  20 to 34.

At last, painfully, it was over.  We had just snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.


How Not to Get an Achievement

I was on Neve in Coldarra, waiting for the LFD queue to spit something out.  In the meantime, I was working on the Alexstraza quest chain.  I was flying around, collecting shards, when a nearby Wyrmkin aggroed on me.  No big deal, really:  Frostbolt plus Fingers of Frost = dead Wyrmkin.  I then mounted up and leapt off the cliff I was on.

My mount squawked.

And I immediately got the Going Down? achievement.

"Oops," I said in guild chat.  "Wrong mount."


The Puzzling Case of the Disappearing Healer

Tomakan's second instance run in Northrend was memorable due to the number of healers we went through.  The first run had tank/healer drama ("If you pull one more time while I stop to drink, I'm not healing you, you dumb ass!"), but the second run was... more mysterious.

At the beginning of the run, the tank said to be patient with him as this was his first time tanking.  This was no longer a big deal to me, as I'd survived the "DK tankfail" wave in Outland.  In fact, this tank was pretty damn good.  He took his time, but he knew who to pull and when.  The guy had obviously done his homework.

However, the healers kept disappearing.

We'd gotten through the Furnace of hate and through the first hallways, and then the healer dropped mid-pull right before the Blood Prince.  Naturally, we wiped. 

So, a second healer ported in and we finished off the trash and the Blood Prince.  Then he dropped right before the second pair of Bosses.

A third healer came in, but we wiped in the Boss fight because the healer stopped healing.  Believe me, I watched the bars, trying to decide when to pick up the slack.  Problem was, I was #2 on the DPS chart, and things were going awfully slow as it was.  So we wiped, and that third healer dropped.

By now, I was just happy to have a healer that stuck around through a single fight.  A fourth healer ported in during the runback, and she flatly stated that if we were on the last boss she was going to drop.  "No," we told her, "we're on the second."

We finished the second pair of bosses, and wonder of wonders, this healer didn't drop.  She didn't seem happy, either, but at least she stuck around.

And then the Death Knight running as DPS started spamming party chat with guild recruitment posts.

I'm still not sure how we finished off Ingvar with a huge chat bubble floating over him from that DK, blocking off all viewing.

But if you're on Deathwing server, I do know that there's a guild recruiting.

EtA:  Convoy to L85 Update:

Nevelanthana (Area 52) -- L71
Tomakan (Ysera) -- L69
Quintalan (Area 52) -- L80 (and enjoying the fishing in the Dal fountain)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time for a Convoy

I think it's time for an experiment (of sorts).

Quintalan is basically sitting around Dal, cooling his jets, while I've been leveling Tomakan and Neve.  I could send him straight into the Cataclysm zones, but I've been reluctant to do so.  It has nothing to do with being put off by the Great Cataclysm Race, but a realization that if I push ahead with Q I'd shelve these other two for a long while.

There's also a bit of a daredevil mentality at work here.  Just how hard is it to hop on an 18-wheeler and drive a toon straight up through L85 without stopping to farm heroics?

I've read online a lot of "you can go straight to L85 without stopping, but it will be a bit harder," but exactly how hard is "harder" the posters kind of left blank.  When you ding L80, you typically have a bunch of iL187 and iL200 gear, with a mixture of lower level gear thrown in.  This is especially true if you've been leveling through instances like I have, and you don't get those questing gear drops to round out your equipment.  For example, I only recently replaced Tom's cloak; he'd been using something he picked up circa the last two Scarlet Monastery instances all the way through L66 simply because he didn't get a DPS type cloak to drop that entire time.  (Well, one that he won in a roll, anyway.)

What this means is that it's entirely possible Neve or Tom could ding 80 and still have a residual piece of BC gear on them.  And those are the toons I'll be taking straight into the Cataclysm zones.

Okay, I'll eventually get around to getting Q to L85, but right now I've got a good thing going:  leveling Tom in the early morning, and Neve in the lunchtime (or late afternoon).  I figure to ride this convoy straight to L85 and see what happens.  I'll make a point of taking a gear snapshot of each toon once they ding 80 and see how things change over the Cat leveling experience.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What I Did on the First Day of Cataclysm

Mostly, I sat in line.

I logged in, discovered that the new areas were swamped, and stayed on Neve.

Shadowmoon was empty.

So were the BC instance queues.

I figured that there ought to be more people like me who felt that the new level areas could wait while the people rushing to get to L85 finished, but I didn't guess at how few people there would be.  The line for a BC instance --even with the new battlegroup combinations-- was 30 minutes minimum.  This was well up from 5-6 minutes that was in place a day ago.

Therefore, I made certain that I did a few quests to creep closer to L70.

Oh, and I created a Goblin Rogue, named Jíg after the main character in Goblin Quest. (Sheesh.  Someone already named a Goblin 'Jig' by 5:00 AM EST.  Jim C. Hines would be so proud.)

What did you do on your first day?

EtA:  Amusing moment of the day:  Curiosities and Moore is now a consignment shop.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Case You Ever Wondered...

...whether pop culture has taken note of the upcoming release:

'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Die, cardboard video game box, die!

For a brief stint after moving to the larger city area I now live close to, I took a job working at a local video game retailer.

When I started there was two shelves for PC games, and one shelf for used PC games.  Steadily over the year I worked there I saw the space reserved for PC games shrink; and now when you visit a store, there's barely ANY space reserved for PC games.

I used to think this was a bad thing, because it indicated the slow demise of PC gaming.  What I didn't realize back then that digital distribution was just starting to offer PC games, and it was becoming fairly popular.  Which probably coincided with the decline of shelf space in local retailers.  I believe another contributing factor is the availability of high speed internet.  You may laugh, but my parents only recently had high speed introduced to their neck of the woods (satellite was available previously, but crazy expensive).

I recently signed up for a Steam account, and have been pretty happy with the level of services offered by the application - a nice friends list with chat messenger, community pages, and a library of your purchased games that are available for download when ever you want them (if you haven't already downloaded them).  I'll never misplace software, or a booklet with a game activation code on it, because it's available digitally. 

And what's even better is they run specials and have some pretty good games for REALLY cheap.

Now, I'm not some Steam fanboi, I'm just setting the stage for the experience I received last night upon my trip to the local game store.

I went to cancel my two preorders for Cataclysm, and move the money I had placed as a down payment onto a gift card to use as a Christmas gift.  And I couldn't believe the attitude of the clerks.  I walk in and explain what I'd like to do and the guy chides "Oh, excellent."  Not in that Mr. Burns from the Simpsons way, and even in a genuine tone of voice - it was that I'm-working-a-job-I-hate-and-being-a-complete-asshole-to-everybody voice.

So, I'm already a little miffed, and the clerk launches into a tirade about how I should throw down some money on the preorder of DragonAge II he saw me looking at.  I tell him no thanks, I just want the money on the gift card, and the second clerk pipes up and again applies preassure trying to get me to preorder the game. 

Look people, I walked in and clearly explained exactly what I wanted.  I didn't ask to be hasseled about any preorders, and I certinaly didn't ask to join your discount card program (I worked there.. I know it's a scam).

I was just all around irritated when I left.  And I don't think I'll be going back.

I got home and hopped on my computer, loaded up the Blizzard website and click click click - Presto!  Two accounts upgraded to Cataclysm with only the need to maybe download a patch on the day of release.  No trouble at all.

I'm going to be doing all of my gaming purchases digitally from now on, tyvm.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gah! Warrior nerf!

There's been a lot of talk recently about the sweeping nerfs the warrior class has received.
A lot of warriors are riled up, and fightin' mad about it.

In fact, I found a video demonstration of what would happen if the warrior class were to receive a further nerf, such as the removal of heroic leap.

Warning:  Brutal fight scene

On second thought, we're still doing just fine.

The Rise Of The Mage...RAWR!

The latest patch, 4.0.3a, we mages have seen a resurgence of "WTB port to..." This can be good or bad, depending on your goals in the game. Sure, I'm an entrepreneur like the next Joe, but receiving request after request for ports not only gets old, it makes me postal. I don't have a lot of time in the game, so what time I do spend I want to get things done and go. To stop and port someone here and there occasionally is fine, but not constantly as I've had to experience the last week or so. Yes, I'm grousing, because like you I'd prefer the portal hubs. I'm all about self-efficacy. But there's another side to this that people don't consider...

This ain't Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

With the Shattering, our World of Warcraft has changed and porting back and forth won't afford you the opportunity to see all the nuances that have been altered forever. Its not about worshiping the developer gods, as much as understanding what the new points of interests are, as well as experiencing what the Shattering really means to each class. So I bare the nudge here and nudge there for ports for now, because some people won't be willing to pay the 25 gold I'll charge. Instead, they'll hoof it around and maybe, just maybe find something really special to enjoy and appreciate.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quick Thoughts on The Shattering

Yeah, I couldn't sleep.

Having checked out both sides of the coin, here's a bunch of quick thoughts on the Post Apocalypse:
  • Orgrimmar is completely unrecognizable.  Even The Drag is brightly lit.
  • Camp Taurajo is still burning.  Between that and Fort Triumph, that just stuck in my craw.
  • Desolace is... well... 'desolate' is not a good descriptor anymore.
  • Hillsbrad is like the Western Plaguelands, Forsaken style.
  • Ashenvale is like Southern Barrens to the Alliance.  'Nuff said.
  • The gigantic 'Ode to Me' statue in front of Stormwind Keep  --complete with top knot-- makes me dislike Wrynn even more.
  • There was a toon standing next to me, taking in the giant Wrynn statue, and said out loud "Tax payer money..."  I think he won the Internets last night.
  • Sylvanas is making Hellscream look normal.  Or as Vosskah put it when I was discussing the changes with him, "I'm starting to like Jaina more.  And that's saying something."
  • The old Barracks in Stormwind look like Deathwing took a gigantic bite out of it.
  • You can't go into an opposite faction's city solo anymore.  As a guildie put it, "You walk in, and instant death."
  • I got on Tomakan, mounted, and....  Dear Lord, Elekks ain't pretty.
  • You won't find the word Defias anywhere.  Not even in the Stocks.
  • There are so many flight points around I expected Ricky Ricardo to pop out from behind a tree and say "It's just so ridiculous!!"
  • For those of you who waited, the price on Master Flight dropped to 4k.
  • Magatha Grimtotem's tent is empty.  Good riddance.
  • Those Plagueborn Horrors?  You'll find L20 versions of them in Hillsbrad.
  • For Elune's sake, lose those bird arms, Malfurion Stormrage.
  • One last thing:  Dalaran at 8 PM looked like Dal at 5 AM.  Shattrath-style empty, here we come.
EtA:  Plants vs. Zombies!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The Shattering is nigh.

There's quite a bit of anticipation out there, coupled with a "just get it over with already!" undercurrent on the servers I'm on.  The chatter on some of the Arathi Basin runs I was on emphasized that.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the season (Late Fall, heading to Winter), but I'm finding myself wistful about the upending of the current order.

I'm going to miss Cairne and his rumbling voice.  Sure, he never was at the forefront of things like Thrall and Sylvanas were, but he was dependable.  He was the killjoy who grumbled about the true meaning of Winter Veil, but he cared about keeping the Tauren traditions alive.  I always considered him the "Old Grandfather" of the Horde, who you'd go meet for coffee and listen to him spin tales of the good old days.

While Thrall isn't really going anyplace, he will definitely be missed as Warchief.  He had that clarity of vision that you only rarely get in a leader, and he was able to keep lines of communication open with the opposite faction when most everyone else wanted blood.  He understood sacrifice and the need to work together.  At the same time, these qualities will drive him to lay down his leadership in the Horde to try to save Azeroth.

From what I'm reading, I think I'm going to miss the old Sylvanas too.  She had an opportunity to really change things, but she seems incapable of pushing beyond her hatred.  Her time spent as a helpless minion of Arthas and the Lich King seems to have ruined her.

And lastly, I'm going to miss the old Barrens.  Camp Taurajo aside, the Barrens was this vast expanse that you could spend a ton of time questing in and just relaxing.  It was there that I learned:
  • Don't attack a Yellow character in a PVP server.  ("You see that yellow guy?"  "Yeaaah."  "Okay, we're going to back out.  Really slowly.")
  • Running through a bunch of gazelles and using Arcane Explosion can be fun.
  • You will see both factions in a Neutral City.
  • Just finding the entrance to an instance can be a real pain in the ass.
  • You can go up mountains and run around the tops of them, but if you fall off at the wrong time, you're screwed.
  • In WoW, Centaurs really are the bad guys.
  • Chuck Norris really is a demi-god.
Okay, enough of that.  What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Over Here, Jeeves!

In Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I, there's a garden scene with the Court of Louis XVI at Versailles.  Count de Monet (played by Harvey Korman) has ridden from Paris to warn the King of impending revolution, but before he can seek an audience with His Majesty, he needs to relieve himself.  Therefore, he summons one of the roving piss-boys --and his bucket-- for this purpose.

The other day, in Blackrock Depths, I was the piss-boy.  (Er, piss-girl.)

I was on Neve, getting a lunchtime run in.  Nothing unusual about that, since I've been trying to get both her and Tomakan to Outland before Cat dropped.  The destination of this run was Blackrock Depths, and I was pretty sure I'd progressed beyond a simple prison run.  A quick scan of the levels of my compatriots told me that Neve at L53 was the lowest of the bunch, so I was prepared for a longer run than normal.

The Warrior tank started the first pull, then quickly progressed to a second in the initial cavern area.  Finishing up that pull, he started in on a third.

"Wait!" cried the Druid healer.

The tank kept on going until the pull ended.  "What?" he demanded.

"I was out of mana!"

"Well, you didn't say anything."

"I am now!"

"Well, drink, you dumb ass!"

"I don't have anything to drink."  He paused, then shouted, "MAGE!!!"

Oh, for the love of...  I was tempted to tell him to do something explicit, which would have carried a bit more weight being the only female toon in the crew.

The healer ran over and immediately opened a trade window, then selected the 'Trade' button.  At that point I hadn't even conjured anything yet, but I gritted my teeth and did it, hoping that would shut these two jerks up.

Silly me.

"Does anyone have the key?" the tank asked.


"Not me."


"I do," I replied.

"Well," the tank said, "I guess we're not going very far then."

What the hell!!  I said I had the key!!  I fumed through the next couple of pulls, while the Warrior dispensed his wisdom concerning Paladins.  "They should shut up and go back to being glorified buff-bots.  I'm sick and tired of their whining."

"Yep," replied the healer.  "They're a bunch of asses who can't do s#!&."

The Interrogator dropped quickly, and the tank took the lack of an 'instance over' sign personally.  "This sucks.  You're all stupid anyway."

And then he dropped.

So did everyone else.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  At least I wasn't the one with the debuff, and I was grateful that I didn't have to put up with any of that combo for the next hour.

Compared to this, most any run would be an improvement.  At the same time, both of those clowns completely blew the three DPS off, and even when I said something worthwhile, it was completely ignored.  We were reduced to being piss-boys for the tank and healer, unworthy of taking a leak in the same area they were soiling.  Talk about treating your fellow player with respect.

I was tempted to think that I was ignored because I was the only female toon, and one with a name that a player had obviously put some thought into, which in some camps that means I'm a female player.  However, I chalked this one up to just pure asshatery; if I had Tomakan or Quintalan along, I'd have gotten the same treatment.  Now that I think about it, I'd have probably been treated worse, given their opinions on Paladins.

The pugging scene is what it is; there are jerks, and there are great puggers.  I try to be the latter, and by doing so encourage others to be a better pugger.


Ironically enough, the night before this pug, I'd had one of those runs that you never really want to end.  It didn't start off very good, as the Druid tank pulled the entire first chamber of Blackrock Depths, then complained when we wiped.  He and a DPS immediately dropped, while three of us ran back.

One of the three got into the open area for Blackrock Mountain and had no idea where to turn.  Having found the entrance to BRD the hard way while grinding for Loremaster, I talked him through it.  When he finally made it through that opening, he was effusive in his praise.  "I'd never been able to find the entrance before," he admitted.  "I think I should call you Saint Nevelanthana, although that's a pretty long name."

"Neve for short," I said.

The queue eventually gave us back a new tank and DPS, and we started over.  The warrior tank said he'd like to go as far as we could, even though he admitted he couldn't go all the way to the end at L52.  He did everything right, from LoS pulls to waiting for people to drink.  The Fireguard pairs at each entrance?  He asked the warrior DPS to off tank the one so he could take the other.  When someone asked a question about what was up ahead, he gave a precise and detailed answer.

"You're damn sight better than the Druid tank we first had," I said.

He chuckled.  "You had a Druid tank?  Say no more."

I never reached the end of BRD on that run, because I got paged and had to login to work.  We said our goodbyes, and the lost puggee again thanked me profusely.


In comparing the two runs, the first thing that stands out is the quality of the tank.  Technical skill isn't always what's needed, you need leadership.  Whether they like it or not, tanks are the leaders:  they have to know the way around, they have to know the boss fights up ahead, and they have to monitor the status of the group.  That's not an easy task, and people who queue to tank just to skip the wait for DPS often don't succeed.

Another difference between the two runs was the attitude.  You know how when a group bonds you can actually feel it?  That happened with the latter group.  In the former group, the overall attitude of the tank and healer was that we were there to make them happy.  Make no mistake; this was their run, the DPS was just along for the ride.  When you have that sort of attitude, unscrupulous puggees won't hesitate to sabotage a run.  Much better for everyone that you have a tolerant attitude and can handle some foibles.

I also think that the time of day has something to do with the success of a pug.  Distractions count, especially when people might be raiding that evening on another toon.  I've had people say "I want this run done in 10 minutes because I've got VoA tonight," and that doesn't exactly give a player warm fuzzies to know that someone you're pugging with has their eye on something else.

Maybe the best thing that you can say about pugs is that each one is different, but it's up to you to hold to your end of the bargain.  Don't let the bastards get you down.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Character Theme Song

Recently, over at Blessing of Kings, Rohan posted what the ideal warrior theme song would be.  While the song picked is pretty good, I prefer music with out words when choosing a theme song.

When I think of my warrior, sure he's there in the front lines taking the blows and controlling the battle, but as a tank, I see him as more of the brooding / calculating pissed off guy.  He's angry, and he's got a plan on how he's going to fix the problem, and you'd best not be in his way.

And for that mental image, I believe the following song captures the overall feeling I get while playing my warrior.

In fact I'll narrate what I see in my head while listening to this.

1-34th second - Camera pans in on the Lich King's platform with my tank proudly out front standing in defiance of the Lich King's power.
Camera fades out briefly
35th second - Camera flashes back into the fight already in progress at the last phase of the LK fight featuring my warrior running the LK around the platform and the rest of the guild successfuly dealing with the spirits and defiles.
1:19 into the song, Arthas drops dead
1:22 into the song, the camera slowly fades in and pans into an extreme close up of a bearded, bloody, wickedly content smile spread across Deftig's face.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Bit Underwhelming

I've finally had a chance to watch the event from both factions, and let's just say I'm a bit... underwhelmed... at this point.

Sure, I know what's coming, but I'm very disappointed in how the Alliance is reacting.  Their council looked like a staff meeting.  All that was missing were the coffee and donuts, and someone going over the TPS reports.  I even said out loud "Where's the PowerPoint stack, guys?  You can't have a staff meeting without one!"  The result of the meeting was just like you'd expect in a corporate staff meeting:  a whole lot of "wait and see" and "we need more data".

By contrast, the Horde meeting was like halftime in a basketball game when your team is losing.  You've got the one who's saying "Look at me and all the good I'm doing!" (Hellscream) and the "Listen to the coach instead of freelancing!" (Vol'jin).  Garrosh and Vol'jin nearly come to blows over who's doing the more important thing, but Thrall breaks that up in a hurry. 

Of both groups, Thrall is the only one going out and doing something --going to Nagrand to commune with the Elements-- which of course leaves us with Junior Nutcase Garrosh in charge.  Also notable by their absence in the Horde deliberations were Lor'themar, Sylvanas, and Carne.  Sylvanas is probably in the doghouse already, but the other two?  Those puzzle me.

As they say at the end of a lot of old television episodes, "Stay Tuned...."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gone With the Wind

When I got on at lunchtime today for an instance run, I was surprised at the server names of my compatriots.


I did a double take, and yes, I was on Neve, and by extension I was on A-52.

"Did the battlegroups change?" I asked out loud.

"No, Blizz is doing away with them entirely."

Cue Handel's Messiah.

You know what this means, don't you?  If I'm not careful, the next time I run a battleground as Quintalan I could be staring Ehna or Deftig in the face.  (Which probably explains the dramatic improvement of the Alliance in BGs lately.)

Or have Tam, Rhii, or Linedan as puggees in a 5-man.  And if some random toon tries to /lick me, I'll know who did it.  ("Tam?  Is that you?")

The possibilities are endless.

It could also make for an awkward moment in a BG, if I'm a member of more than one guild.  "Guild One, meet Guild Two.  Ouch, that had to hurt."


I have a confession to make:  I haven't pugged 5-mans much lately.  I'm not sure why, but I've found myself checking out a variety of different things on some of my toons.  Q is grinding Netherwing rep for the Nether Drake mount, and he's also getting in on some BGs when he can.  I've also been playing around with Q's rotation, and while I still don't like it much, I can live with it.  In a 5-man, Zealotry is almost guaranteed to draw aggro, so you don't get much of a chance to use it.  In a boss fight in a raid it'd come in handy, but for the non-raider I now see its utility limited to BGs for a big fat 20-second burst of damage.  Just proc Zealotry, then spam Crusader Strike and Templar's Verdict as soon as each one is off CD.

With Tomakan, I've been doing the Explorer routine so I can get used to where things are from an Ally point of view before the Cataclysm changes everything.

Now Neve...  I'm still trying to work out the Frost Mage routine, since I lost Blizzard as a low level AoE spell, but gained Ice Lance and the Water Elemental.  I wasn't planning on learning how to handle a pet until later, but now it's been kind of foisted on me.  Given the way that we're all kind of overpowered for the lower level instances, I don't get much of a chance to learn how to work a pet in a 5-man, because once I've set the elemental up to go do what I want it to I discover the mob fight is already finished.  And if there's one thing I've learned in pugs, everyone hates a pet that causes problems, so I've tried keeping the elemental pretty tame.  After a couple of instances of this, I said to hell with it and simply dismissed the elemental.

Right now, working out an acceptable rotation for a Frost mage is more important right now than dealing with a pet.  And from what I've experienced so far, it's a big juggling act.

Ice Lance:  Instant, hits for about the same (per second) as Frostbolt, but jacks up your threat very quickly.
Frostbolt:  Old standby, still on a regular casting time, but because of that not much of a threat multiplier.
Arcane Missiles:  Procs off of other spells, doesn't hit as hard as before, either.  Kind of a so-so spell right now.
Blizzard:  Gone until L52 (sob!), but given the increase in threat potential, have to be very careful in application.
Frost Nova:  Still good for freezing people in place in a run to the tank.  (Hey, Neve's got to get her exercise in, and pulling aggro is as good an excuse as any.)
Arcane Explosion:  Good for those "Oh $%#^!" moments and you're in the middle of all hell breaking loose.  Also good for finishing off weakened mobs.  The drawback is that you get within interrupt range.
Cone of Cold:  It's an okay spell, but I'm not convinced being within interrupt range is worth it.

Now, I have been able to put the crowd control aspect of the Mage to good use, keeping the ranged casters sheeped while we deal with the rest of the mob, for example.  (Works like a charm in the Jammalan the Prophet portion of Sunken Temple.)  But I can't help but get the feeling that something is missing in the Frost Mage setup, and don't exactly know why.

What do you think of your routine?  Is there something missing, but you can't figure out exactly what it is?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

funny pictures-Trick or Treat!   I iz a lol-bulb.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

You’ve seen them, all decked out in the latest tier gear whispering you for an invite into a PUG raid. Their numbers look good. They tell you how they’re the shiznits. And then you enter the raid...

The problem with the new heroic point system is that you get players who easily can gear up without the effort required to become proficient in one’s class. Yeah, big problem there. The disparity isn’t limited to inept Death Knights, though Lord knows there’s a fair share of them who couldn’t follow direction if you put up a light bulb that said, “DO NOT STAND IN THE FIRE!” This problem goes for such classes as a mage. And now with fire’s AOE insanity, this will prove the patience of every tank and healer out there come 85 end-game content. With all the CC that’s coming, this will require a lot of coordination by all players to ensure DPS actually waits for the tank to get enough threat and to focus fire on single targets, as well as maintain CC’s. To help all you healers and tanks out there, let me give you some hints on what to look out for when choosing a mage for a raid:

1) Do they have any end-game content trinkets, rings, and/or gear obtained ONLY through actual *10-man raiding;
2) The moment the tank pulls a mob, does the mage immediately unleash or pause the 5 to 10 seconds it takes for the tank to get enough threat; and
3) Make sure they know in advance they will be CC’ing and be sure to mark CC’s with a distinct Lucky Charm.

DPS classes are going to get a wakeup call, much like most of us did during Burning Crusade where mobs hit hard and actually require coordination by the team (i.e., CC’s, focus fire, health and mana bar awareness, etc.). That is a good thing. Players have become too complacent in their gameplay, frustrating or, worse, boring tanks and unnecessarily stressing healers out. Frankly, I think end-game Cataclysm will whittle down the incompetent players and bring back the efficacy in gameplay experience.

*Note: 10-man raiding is actually harder than 25-man, because a person can’t hide their incompetence. Though many argue that 25-man is harder, in truth its actually just more gimmicks and additional movement. In 10-man raids every player counts. If you screw up, it affects the whole team. So, there’s more pressure to perform than in 25-man where a single mistake won’t wipe a raid.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Kingdom for a Tank

Last weekend was Call to Arms:  Alterac Valley, so I figured there was no time like the present to give that BG a whirl on Quintalan.  Forty players on a side meant that any screwups on my part would be minimized, so why not?

The first couple of runs on Friday night went pretty well.  We split 50/50 with the Alliance, while I learned a bit about staying with the pack.  Oh, and that Stormpike takes quite a licking to bring down.

Saturday night, I got on after having company over.  It was a bit late, so I figured that I'd play until the Horde got a victory.  Not a very high bar to jump over, so I figured I'd be in bed pretty soon.

The first indication that it wasn't going to be my night was that I ported into the middle of a run, and couldn't get more than maybe 10 seconds into the battleground before getting killed by a Lock and a DK that were corpse camping at the Horde's home graveyard.  Needless to say, that game ended about 2 minutes after I ported in with an Alliance victory.

So I queued again.

And again.

And again.

Surely, I thought, I have to get lucky sometime.

Not necessarily.  There was the run where a tank and a healer had a very public feud over who was to blame for the successive wipings on Stormpike.  In the meantime, the Alliance ran everyone up to Drek and killed him, which caused the tank to go spastic.

Then there was the run where a bunch of us --about 15 or so-- made it to Drek, and we all stood around looking at each other.  "You mean there's not a single tank here?" a Rogue asked.  "You have got to be @#$#-ing me.  We need a tank up here for the boss."  We waited for something like five minutes, and still no tank appeared.  "We need a tank up here!"  "WTB tank!"  Another five minutes, and the Alliance won.

I complained to Soul, who was running a few BGs of his own.  "Aren't BG's fun?" he replied.

I grumbled something and queued up again.  "How are we doing tonight?" someone asked.

"Lousy," came the reply.  "Haven't won yet tonight."

"Pfft.  This is easy.  You make sure you cut off their arms, and the rest falls into place."

While I didn't share his enthusiasm, I hoped there would be a semblance of strategy.  Lo and behold, this time there was.  Three of us took out one tower, another small group took out a second, and we defended our base.  Once the towers were down, it became a war of attrition.  No rush the boss strategy, no fast kill needed.  And it worked.


Friday, October 22, 2010

A Few Musings on Cataclysm

I've been watching the blogs the past couple of weeks, and several thoughts have occurred to me about Cataclysm.

A lot of speculation --and the underlying assumption-- is that Deathwing will be the killable end boss in Cataclysm.  End boss?  Likely.  Killable?  I'm not so sure.

In Wrath, we got the chance to destroy one of the Dragon Aspects, Malygos.  He wasn't even the end boss in the expansion, just the end of one of the story chains in Wrath.  From this, we can go in two directions:  either Deathwing is more powerful than Malygos ever was, or Malygos isn't truly dead.  (A third possibility is that Malygos got nerfed by Blizz in a patch release and we caught him on a good day, but you never know.)

If Deathwing is truly more powerful than Malygos --and by extension, the other Dragon Aspects-- then there's very little stopping him from killing Ysera and Alexstrasza.  Also, if he is truly powerful enough to break the world, perhaps the best we can hope for is to beat him back and shut him out of Azeroth once more. 

Now, if Deathwing is equivalent in power to Malygos, and his retreat from the other (pissed off) Dragon Aspects in the Second War implies as much, then the downing of Malygos (even with the Life Binder's aid) might not have been the end of him.  It won't be the first time that someone once thought dead makes a reappearance in a Fantasy environment.  ("What, Sauron is back again?  Just how many lives does this guy have, anyway?")

Another possibility is that Deathwing isn't the true last end boss in Cataclysm, but someone --or something-- else.  Possibilities abound:  another Old God or two, Azshara, Elemental Lords, or maybe even Sargeras.


I keep bringing this up, because I think it's going to be a very important theme for the Horde in Cataclysm:  the Cataclysm itself won't do as much to the Horde as the fight with the Alliance will.

From what I've seen so far, the Horde region that is hit the hardest will be The Barrens.  Sure, Cataclysm splits the region in half, but the greatest impact is on the Alliance's push into Southern Barrens and the hasty construction of barriers at the entrance to Mulgore.  Shenanigans with the Grimtotems will impact the Horde/Alliance war and will change the face of the Horde forever.  Ashenvale is going to change significantly as well, given all of those Horde victories in Warsong Gulch.  And that's not counting the Forsaken turning their attention to the Greymane Wall.


Speaking of Forsaken, whom do they turn their ire to?  Arthas is dead, and the Scourge will be (theoretically) more contained than before.  (Gee, I have no idea why...  The Lich King is dead, isn't he?  At least that's what the official stories say....)  So, who gets the brunt of the Undead's vengeance?  Or, will this lack of a major enemy be a major theme in the Forsaken story?


Although technically they are part of Outland, what about the Draenei and Blood Elf starting areas?  Will there be changes in Eversong and the Ghostlands given the current state of the Scourge lore?  How will the Draenei start off in an "unbroken" world that doesn't acknowledge that they were around for the Cataclysm?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cinematics for the Alliance

When I first watched the WoW Cataclysm cinematic, my first thought was "Okay, that's technically well done."  My next thought was "Outside of the brief glimpse of Freewind Post and Grom'gol, I'd say that the Horde comes out of this better than the Alliance does."

The last thing I thought of probably dates me, but did anyone else notice that when Deathwing said "Pain! Agony!" he sounded remarkably like Bugs Bunny?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Favorite thing to do (while bored)

Step 1 - Get shoe shine
Step 2 - go stand on statue out side of south bank and kill squirrel
Step 3 - Stand over squirrel's dead body
Step 4 - Watch how many people try to stop and loot the squirrel

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OMG Warrior tanking...

... is pretty much the same as it was, with the addition of a few new abilities in the mix like victory rush and rend. 

Like Q in the post below, I also got DTK as first dungeon I did.  The first pull was a little shaky getting the mobs on me because I had some trouble generating rage right off the bat, but a quick shout fixed that.  The second pull was a little hairy as well because the DPS in the group got all antsy in their pantys and starting dpsing stuff before I could even get a thunderclap + shockwave off.  After that though, it was back to normal speed and we were done in there with no wipes or deaths in about 15 minutes.  There was, however, one noticible difference - I did the most damage done.  Muaahahahaha!  Watching vengeance scale is amazingly fun.  My attack power just goes up and up and up and up...

I'm definately noticing how aggro is going to be a little shaky.  I look forward to the cries of the dead dps.  They haven't quite learned how to assist the tank - but the current dungeons and design don't FORCE them too.... yet.

So much to learn and wrap my head around with all the changes.... so many new glyphs and a few new skills.  The new all plate armor bonus is sweet, as well as the mastery bonuses.  I'm up to 50k unbuffed HP, which makes me wonder if I should think about swapping out my one stam trinket for armor or avoidance.

I also noticed that dwaves get a +archaelogy bonus.  Which is OK, I guess.  It's still not enough to make me not want to race change to a worgen as soon as I can.  I mean, come on... a warrior with charge, intercept, intervene, heroic leap, AND a racial sprint - as well as a resto shaman arena partner who can now cleanse mage polymorphs and ice novas!?  Mmmmmmm.....  dead mages.

All in all, wonderful changes and it's fun to learn your class again.  And to all of the nay sayers out there... shut it.  We don't have the right gear (+mastery points) yet to make your spec shine.  It's all new and different and you don't like it.  I get it.  But shut up and give it a go and see if you like it.

Oh, and the new downloader is rather spiffy!  I loaded up while it was still downloading with out much issue and off I went.

Oh, and one last thing... I purchased my 310% flying speed last night which lets me give up on Yogg +1.

And there's finally someting NEW in the game again!

 *cue up Choir*

Getting to Know You All Over Again

Well, I got Quintalan set up talentwise, reestablished my glyphs, checked my gear, and tried out Drak'Tharon with three other guildies.  In a taste of lowbie runs, there were three Pallys --one of which was the guy not from our guild as the healer-- and two as Ret.  We also had a Druid as tank, and a Lock rounding out the DPS.

What did we learn?  Oh, joy.

We had an incredibly slow run through Drak, all of us critiquing our stuff.

"XXX Druid ability has a CD now.  Do not like."

"WTH happened to Art of War?"

"Flash of Light and Holy Light flip-flopped.  Have to rework our buttons."

"I feel completely naked; I have no idea how I'm doing."

"Oh oh.  This tanking ability is broken."

"I'm just seeing 300, 400, 500, then 9000 damage at a time.  This just feels wrong."

Nobody died, which was a bonus, but it wasn't, well, thrilling.  Holy Power is definitely the key to making some decent damage, but it's very clumsy right now.  The cooldowns are s-l-o-w, and I felt like I was a fresh 80 doing miniscule damage.  Art of War seems to take forever to proc now, and when it finally does it always seems to be on the last hit of a mob.  Big whoop.

I know what I'm going to be doing the next couple of days:  reading.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hmmmm.... About that patch

Note to self:  The patch is big.

My background downloader had taken care of the 4+ GB over the past few weeks, but I was surprised that after that installation, another window started up for first a 50MB and then another 1.4 GB download.  I've no idea if there's a fourth download behind this one, but hold onto your hats.

EtA:  No, there wasn't another gig lurking behind that fifth one, so we're good to go.  The "you can play now" sound pinged halfway through the last 1.4 GB download, but since the servers were down, it was a moot point.

All in all, lots of "Deathwing this" and "Deathwing that" files were unpacked along with the plethora of assorted other data.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hot, hot...muy caliente

Mages are going through some pretty significant changes, though some argue rotations aren't that much different. I say, "Ha!"

Although Fire mages, which is proving to be by far the most exciting tree in the class in Cataclysm, has a much more dynamtic approach to fighting than it has before. With such spells as Improved Scourch and Improved Flamestrike, mages will be burning everything in sight while on the move. Not many classes can boast cast-as-you-go flexibility, but Fire Mages not only get a full array of spells that allow movement, it does insane AoE DPS. Proof below:

Cataclysm Beta - Fire AoE Madness + Flame Orb!

I've read that the new Fire Orb isn't living up to expectations, but the other changes have demonstrated amazing results (see Elitist Jerk's spoiler at the bottom of the first post here for Spell Coefficients). However, there are issues to take into consideration especially when running with a group:

1) CC involved pulls break when AoEs are used.
2) Hot streak doesn't proc as often as it does now.
3) Mana efficiency is a major issue currently in the patch (which isn't expected to change much when it goes live).
4) Fire has too much emphasis on DoTs and AoE.

The debate is pretty hot and heavy at Elitist Jerks, bringing up burning issues such as boss encounters in raids where single target DPS is lacking in Fire, the lack of Fire Streak procs, and issues with Combustion. Arcane may prove to be the winner for single target, but given its complex rotation we could see more go Frost on the duel spec. Indeed, Frost is taking an interesting turn boasting higher coefficients than fire on EJ's number-crunching charts. So it might be one of those things where a mage goes back and forth, which isn't much different now for heroic modes in ICC, but something to consider based on playstyle, group composition and boss strategies.

I can tell you this, I'll be at the dummies for a while to determine the best build and rotation until I determine the best of both to maximize my DPS. I'm certainly no min-maxer, but like any other girl I'm all about whats muy caliente.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Death from the Skies

I've been trying to split my time between Tomakan and Nevelanthana, slipping in some face time on Q and other toons.  Tom, as another Paladin, is familiar ground, although the queues for DPS or healing are equally long enough right now that there's no real reason for me to keep healing with him for the time being.  The only way for me to get to an instant queue is to start tanking, and that's just not me.

Now Neve, she's been a refreshing change of pace.  What I discovered with Mages is that I really like being able to find a corner, just out of silence or knockdown range, and just go to town.  As I described it to someone the other day, "it's a lot of fun to be raining frozen death from the skies."  The upside is that you don't get impacted by debuffs that the melee DPS do, and you're able to use AOEs to maximum effect.  The downside is that you're the one that gets the aggro if a mob comes up from behind the group, or worse, if the tank gets incapacitated.

Yes, I know about watching threat.  Mixing it up as a Ret Spec Pally has taught me plenty about watching Ye Olde Threat Meter.  Repeat after me:  Omen is my friend.  In fact, I probably watch that as much as I watch Healbot when Tomakan is on Holy Spec.

There's one little thing about being a squishy Mage that's a bit disconcerting, and that's when you get aggro unexpectedly.

The scene:  Zul'Farak.

I'd had a really lousy work week, so I took a late lunch on Friday to get a run in on Neve.  I ported in to Z'F, noted that we had only ranged DPS for a change --two mages and a lock-- we started up the first passage.  This wasn't Neve's first run in Z'F, so I knew about zapping totems in between casting Blizzard.  The first few pulls were shaky, with the Warrior tank needing a few extra seconds to get a good lock on the mob, so I paced my casting to match him.  We made it through the first several mobs and two of the bosses --the zombie creator and the basilisk tender-- when things started to go bad.

The trash pull was pretty typical, and I was in the middle of casting Blizzard.  Threat was under control --somewhere in the low 40s-- when all of a sudden I noticed the mob running at me.

"What the--"

Just as the first blows landed, the threat skyrocketed and only then did WoW announce that I had aggro.

Bubbling and using Frost Nova to keep the mob in place for the tank, I was cursing up a blue streak.  "Are any of you also experiencing lag issues?" I asked.

"Nope."  "Not me."  "Our server was laggy an hour or two ago."

"I've got some," I replied.  "The threat meter didn't show anything until they'd already started hitting me."

"I'll make sure to keep you bubbled," the Priest said.

The next trash pull had the same result, and at least I got a good workout doing the "run to the tank, squishy mage!" routine.   

Okay, I thought, I'll just wait until about 10 seconds into the fight so that I'm certain the tank has a good lock on the threat.

I was standing in the back, the AOE highlighted on the ground and waiting to drop, when it happened for the third time.  Dammit, I didn't even DO anything!

This time, the tank had gotten Hexed.

Then the healer also became a cute little frog, hopping around the desert sand.

The other mage and the lock were more than happy to let me keep aggro as they both scattered, leaving me to bubble and then Ice Block for ten agonizing seconds.

Well, I thought, I survived that.  What's next?

As I've said before:  don't tempt the WoW gods. (You'd think I would have learned that by now.)

Once the tank reacquired threat, another trash mob came wandering into range and aggroed on the lock.  The tank tried to peel their threat away, but he was Hexed again.  This time, the blow was fatal.  We all had a good laugh about it on the run back, and I really really dialed it down for the rest of the run.  You've seen the Mage using Frostbolts + a wand in substantial portions of a 5-man?  That was me in Z'F that afternoon.

Moral of the story:

Squishy + Lots of AoE + Too much trash + Aggro (whether by hook or crook) = Baaad News

And that is something that the melee DPS Pally doesn't have to worry about.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Release Date Finalized

Cataclysm will drop on Pearl Harbor Day --December 7th-- this year.

Let the countdown commence!!

EtA:  Thanks for this goes to a fellow guildie, who found it and posted it first on her own blog.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lag spike

As this expansion wanes down, I'm finding myself more and more in the position of raid leader.  This is not something I've got much experience doing, nor am I particularly comfortable doing so.  That being said, however, I've been curious about how to approach performance related topics during raids.  And even more importantly, when should a raid leader overlook a mistake?

Now, if I remember back to previous guilds I have been a raider in, I've got a wide variety of leadership at both ends of the spectrum.  I've had a former Marine who's now a highway patrolman, and a female college student who just wanted to have fun in game.

The former Marine, as you can imagine, was a gigantic, complete, and utter dick at times.  Ok, well most of the time.  He was hard-core.  He was a former raider in everquest, and we all know from the glory stories every everquest player has how much this entitles him as a badass.  His approach to when a member of the raid messed up was to halt the raid, and wait for the guilty to fess up and apologize - sometimes 15 minutes would pass.  He'd be nerd raging into vent, and once somebody spoke up, he shifted back to being a less-vocal dickhead.

He could give this guy a run for his money...
(Warning - offensive language and mildly offensive crudely done animations)

I think most rational people would not put up with that leadership style for very long, however.

This one the other hand seems much more friendly.  The raid leaders pick a cartoon voice to imitate, and this video features Mickey, Goofy, and one of the South Park kids.  It gets the job done and guild members get a good laugh out of it.
(Warning - also contains some offensive language)

So I'm trying to find a balance between the two, and figure out what, when, and how to approach things like members standing in a fire or hitting killing spree right before a mechanic that requires you to move and subsequently kills you.

This type of problem wouldn't exist, however, if players took more responsibility on themselves to learn fights and positioning.  If a mistake was made, call yourself out on it, apologize, learn from it and move on.  What ever you do, don't blame lag or some odd non-existent bug that got you killed when your character is clearly not lagging - you just messed up.  And it's OK to admit it - faking reasons why the situation was beyond your control to avoid the clearly avoidable encounter mechanic just makes your fellow guild members lose respect for you.

That being said, I'd like to hear a few grand stories of how you've wiped an entire raid.  Here's one of mine:

I'm on my way on my vanilla raiding character (rogue) to my second ever time in ZG, and I get to see new bosses I've never seen before.  I was so excited.  I zoned in, asked where the group was and they had just killed the tiger boss and were handing out loot.  I had no clue where the tiger boss was.  I just mounted up and followed the path of destruction and eventually found them right as they were coming down the ramp out of the tiger area.  I realized as rode up, however, I somehow got aggro on a pack the group must not have killed, because I had a nice little train of mobs following me... So I vanished to hopefully lose aggro.  Nope- they went straight for Mr. former Marine.  As you can imagine this set him off with the quickness - it was rather funny though.  "Who the F was that!? I know it was a rogue!  I SAW YOU VANISH!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pimp My Purse

Howdy, my fighting, fearless friends. As this is my first post among you, let me introduce myself as a quiet, gentle mage who farms mats late into the night, wades through Dalaran sewers in search of wayward potions of Tuskar proportions, and enjoys walks on the beach preferably with someone I like.

With that said, let us begin with a topic near and dear to my heart--money.

Yes, we females love money. Mostly because one can find satisfaction without all the necessary gibber jabber other things require. But don't fret you fine specimens of testosterone. Even male orcs can be sexy too. Think of it, you in Cataclysm with your 310 mount all paid for by your economic virility and her perched on top of Deathwing Lair waiting for someone to give her the ride of her life. Yes, that can be you with a pimped out mount carrying a heavy purse and hot babe. To prove it, I'm going to include a video where not only can green pectorals be entertaining, but said pectorals can actually induce undulating monetary ecstasy by simply following this fellow-blogger's direction on how to make gold with Jewelcrafting and Enchanting in less than 10 minutes. You read that right. 10 minutes!

Alas, there is one thing that is critical...well, two things: 1) use the tools he recommends, and 2) timing is of the essence.

First, macros and add-ons take much of the work and simplifies it similar to a microwave is to hot pockets. He provides links to the add ons and instructions for macros.

Second, timing, timing, timing... It can't be said enough. With Cataclysm around the corner, you want to make sure items like epic gems are sold now. Make sure they're cut and make sure to use cuts people would want to buy (i.e., haste/spellpower, strength, spellpower, etc.). The blue quality gems sell best uncut, frankly. I know he has a few cut, but honestly you can make a lot more selling them as mats for professions and more so right after Cataclysm comes out. Remember, people will be leveling their worgens/goblins, so they will seek the Auction House for mats to level their professions.

Okay, this may not be the magey-goodness you expect, but you can't deny its yumminess. Nosiree. Like me, you too will drool and gasp in awe as you learn how to make 1,500 gold a day spending only 10 minutes of your life in the game. Say it with me... YEAH, BABY!

Stay tuned for my next installment, where I discuss "How to contend with burnt-hair-smell as a fire mage in Cataclysm."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Woo! Happy Birthday to PC

Yep, we're coming up on our first year anniversary on Sept 29th!

I'd like to thank my co-poster Redbeard, and even though Satyana has been MIA from the blog for a while, I'd like to thank her for her contributions as well.

And most importantly I'd like to thank the readers and the wonderful people who take the time to reply.

I wasn't so sure we'd be as successful as we have been. 

And I'd also like to welcome our newest contributing poster!  Welcome to Ehna!  I'll let her do her own introduction, but I believe she'll make a great addition to the team!

I'm looking forward to all of the topics Cataclysm will bring out, and all of the exciting changes in store!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Intentionally handicapping gameplay

There's all sorts of ways players intentionally inhibit themselves, and I'd like to touch on a few that have bugged me recently.

Character control

We've been running Ulduar 10 hard modes in an effort to acquire a 310% mount before Cataclysm is released.  A few members of the guild are very very close to getting Glory of the Ulduar Raider finished
up.  I, myself, am only lacking one achievement, which we just attempted for the first time last night and got three solid attempts in - making it to phase two of Yogg'Saron +1.

Doing these hard modes makes me realize a few things.  There is NO WAY a keyboard turner can complete some of these achievements.  You just can't... 

Case in point, we have a few players in our guild who actually DO keyboard turn. (I find this to be more prevalent on PVE servers where you can lazily run around with out having to look for incoming attacks).  And we struggled for three nights on Firefighter.  One of our tanks happens to keyboard turn.  So when shock blast is about to go off, he turns, starts to run and promptly drops dead.  And that same player has to execute a left turn, forward run, right turn just to dodge cold flame on Marrowgar.

/facepalm.  Ok, fine I guess I won't get to try out my new pve fury dps spec.  Back to tanking...

And another quick pet peeve... if you have to run from something, RUN.  Don't backpedal, don't keyboard turn yourself around - use the mouse to turn and then strafe (you can still move at full speed doing this) or just quickly face the opposite way and run your happy ass out of the bad stuff.

 This is a multiplayer game at its core.  Sure, you CAN do most things in the game solo, but for all of the good stuff (raids, pvp, dungeons) you will need to interact with people.  The best way to do this is find a guild.

But you don't want to join a guild because you're not good enough?  How do you expect to improve on your gameplay?  It doesn't just happen naturally

For example, you learn very very quickly not to use Hand of Reckoning in a group setting if you're not the tank.  A new player would assume that this spell does damage and it's OK to use in your rotation.  And that new player would never change his mind if he were not exposed to a group environment where you learn how to properly apply your class skills.

Beyond that, you make new friends and acquaintances.  Developing your social skills are good, albeit they're internet social skills...

Having friends in the game can really help motivate you, too.  I probably wouldn't have finished out my nether drake on my warrior (third nether drake grind now) were it not for a friend wanting to do it and joining up with him.  And we're even working on getting random reputations built up - things I never though I'd do.  Because frankly... it sucks.  Rep grinds just are NOT fun.  However, having a friend there to idly chat with and crack jokes really doesn't make it so bad.


"I've seen everything there is to see in the game because I'm a hard core raider and there's nothing left for me here."  Or perhaps, "I've played this game since launch - it sucks.  Xyz new game will kill warcraft."  Or even "This will be my last blog post for a while, I've just lost interest in playing the game."


I hate that sort of overly dramatic whiny nonsense.  Get over yourself.  There's nothing left for you in game?  That's fine, to each his own.  But I don't care to read about how bad you think the expansion will be and how your flavor of the month class is going to be nerfed and you can't figure out what the next class of the month will be.

SHOW SOME ORIGINAL THOUGHT.  There's tons of stuff to do in the game.  Level an alt, try out the other faction, finish leveling out your trade skills, play at the auction house, pick an achievement and try to get it.

I'm tired of reading about people who are stuck in the pre-expansion lull and whine about it.  This is the first time where end game as been so readily available to the average player.  Have you conquered all of the raids and dungeons in the game to date?  If not, find a group and set to it.  

Say you have actually conquered everything in game as far as raid / dungeon content goes.  That's fine too.  Pick a raid achievement and get it done.  You'll get a spiffy reward.  And you may even have fun doing so.

Don't get yourself stuck in a rut where you focus on the negative.  

So the moral of the story is: Nobody likes a negative nancy, level 72 death knights, or gnomes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Cure for the Common Ganker

I started writing this post about two or three times before I decided I wasn't going to write about pugs.  I could return to my regularly scheduled grumblings another time, but this post will be pug-free. 

(You're off the hook, Mr. "Gnomer-is-so-boring-and-I-spend-so-much-time-yawning-that-I-forget-to-tank.")

I was on Neve, working on some quests in Hillsbrad while waiting for the LFD queue, when a thought struck me.  "You know," I said to a fellow guildie, "this has to be the first time I've leveled in Hillsbrad without constantly looking over my shoulder."

Old PvP habits die hard.  When I first showed up with Neve in Hillsbrad, several months ago, I was completely unnerved by the Alliance characters just blithely passing me on the road.  After having spent my formative WoW years on a PvP server, I was used to ganking as a way of life.  If you were out farming for ore, you kept a close eye on your surroundings before you stopped and picked that nugget of Iron up.  Even when you got flying in Outland and Northrend, that meant you had to watch the skies as well as the ground.  You could be out questing at 3 AM server time --Stormscale is a Pacific Time Zone server and I live in the Eastern Time Zone-- and found yourself caught from behind while working your way through Stromgarde Keep.  After a while, you get twitchy when you go through different locales, wondering where the next attack is coming from.

Switching to a PvE server does help eliminate that inherent nervousness, but I think what really helped in the long run was leveling on the Alliance side.  No, I'm not talking about some great kumbaya moment about how we're all one great happy family, but rather going out and leveling in unfamiliar places.  Redridge Mountains.  Darkshore.  Dun Morogh.  Loch Modan.  Wetlands.  Westfall.  Azuremyst and Bloodmist.  All of those places are strange territory to this Hordie, and the lack of opposing faction toons finally allowed me to relax and enjoy the environment.

After that experience in low-ish level areas, returning to Hillsbrad on Neve was almost a non-event.  I saw a few Alliance toons heading up to Alterac, but since I didn't have the PvP flag turned on, there was nobody to worry about.

Except for the fellow Hordies who thought that Neve needed company or something to protect her from the big bad Murlocs.

Now, if I could only figure out how to attack people on my own faction....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whispers in the Dark

Have you ever had that feeling where people are talking about you behind your back?  Perhaps you developed that sense in middle school, when rumors could sweep through your classmates before you even knew what happened.  Or maybe you were clueless then, but in office politics you have to keep an ear to the ground, lest you be swept aside by some conniving young punk a few cubicles down.

In real life, that feeling is often accompanied by the looks you get from others while they're huddled together.  WoW, however, doesn't have that visual cue.  You have to rely upon actions or words instead.

Before you ask, I don't intend to talk about guild drama.  There's enough posts out there on the subject by other bloggers that you don't need me to chime in.  And to be honest, I avoid guild drama like the plague.  Sure, I like to know the whys behind a move within the guild, but that doesn't mean I want to inject myself into the drama.

What I meant was in relation to instances.  In raids, you have Vent (or equivalents), but not in a regular old 5-man pug.  Maybe in a heroic Northrend instance you expect silence, but in the lower level instances you expect people to talk, to say they need to drink, and to discuss strategy.  Unless the entire group is composed of people at the high end of the level range, you simply aren't OP enough to wing it.  And if people start doing some bizarre behavior, you can bet that there's some discussion going on behind the scenes.

Take a recent experience in Maraudon, for example.  Thankfully, Blizz cut Maraudon into chunks for LFD, which makes it easier to run.  This particular run was the Orange Crystals wing, which ends at Razorlash, and the party consisted of three guildies from another server (tank, healer, and hunter DPS), a lock, and Tomakan (me).

The first sign of trouble was when the lock and hunter died a couple of trash pulls in.  From what I could tell, the hunter pulled aggro on some of the mob, and that subsection of the mob killed both of them.  I kept expecting the Warrior tank to yank the mob back, but he instead he pressed on.  I rezzed the lock, the healer rezzed the hunter, and the two guildies ran on to catch up with the tank while the lock and I drank.

I expected something to be said in party chat by then, but it was eerily silent.

We got to the oozes and dispatched them without much issue.  The tank headed left to the next trash, and I engaged just as I realized that there was nobody else behind us.

The other three had engaged the oozes on the right instead.

By the time we got back to the others and finished off the oozes, the lock had died again.  The healer rezzed the lock and then ran on ahead with the rest while the lock and I drank.  I don't know what was going on in the lock's head, but I was detecting a pattern.  The healer was behaving more like DPS, and I was spending some of my mana keeping both myself and the tank upright.  I checked the roles, and yeah, the healer wasn't me.

What was more worrisome was that the tank seemed blissfully unconcerned about trying to pull back aggro when someone else acquired it.  I know all about the "you yank it, you tank it" concept, but this was different.  At one point, I got aggro and I popped Hand of Salvation and stopped hitting, but I kept aggro.  I bubbled, and I still kept aggro.  Standing there in the middle of the mob with nowhere to go and waiting for my threat to go down was an exercise in frustration, especially when the hunter was also pulling aggro, the tank seemed to be on auto attack, and the healer was jumping around and popping Holy Nova.

Somehow, we made it to the end and defeated Razorlash.  I was typing in my standard "thanks for the group" when the tank and hunter ran onward, obviously going to Celebras.  Whatever, I thought, and followed along.  I could use the extra XP, after all.

Well, Celebras wasn't the end.  The tank and his guildies kept going, and it was obvious by now that they wanted to take out Theradras herself.  I hadn't signed on for this, and the only time party chat was used was when the lock died for the third time and the healer said "I'm not rezzing you any more."

"Send me a heal now and then," the lock replied.

I grimaced and kept going.  I could have taken the easy way out and dropped, but I wasn't going to leave the lock alone with these clowns.  Besides, their asshatery hadn't really risen to my "I'm dropping group" threshold.  The mobs got tougher, and they started getting silence effects.  The way the healer was jumping around and attacking meant he was well within range for being silenced, and I knew it was a matter of time before the mobs got big enough for us to wipe.  Right at a choke point that happened; the tank pulled two groups, and about 20 seconds later that was that.

Almost immediately the three guildies dropped.

Maybe they just did it on a spur of the moment, but to the lock and myself it sure felt like they were leading us on until we both bit it.

"They had to be on Vent together," I told the lock.

"How so?"

"There was no way they were working all this without there being a chat going.  And since nobody paused to type, they had to be on Vent."

"I think they had it out for me.  The priest hardly healed me at all."

"He hardly healed anybody.  I was healing the tank as much as he was."


I now know why some people cringe when they see several people from the same guild in a LFD pug.  If they're talking on Vent, doing their own thing, then they're not really participating in the group.  This ain't exactly a formula for success, especially when you're one of the people being ignored.

How do you fix it?  Be more open.  Don't play like this is a private club.  If it were, you wouldn't need extra puggees, right?  On the flip side, don't ding and drop.  People hate that, and it gives your guild and your server a bad name.

In short, don't make a pug run into all about you.  It's a team, remember?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

For the Darkspears!

The Darkspear Trolls are kind of the bastard stepchild of the Horde.  They were kicked out of Stranglethorn Vale by their own race, they had a home until Zalazane took over, and Vol'jin now hangs around in Orgrimmar as Gilligan to Thrall's Skipper.  ("Right-o, Little Buddy!")  At least he got to hang around with the Wrathgate event, whereas Loth'remar wasn't even invited to the party.  I guess Sylvanas was afraid he'd try to pull rank on her or something.

Well, Vol'jin finally got up the gumption to go after Zalazane and kick him out of the Echo Isles.  He sent out requests for aid to anyone and everyone in the Horde, and we came by the thousand.  When Quintalan made it to Sen'jin Village, the crowd had noticeably thinned, which was just the way he liked it.

Nothing like the sight of your character leading
a pack of Troll Volunteers into Sen'jin Village.
(Venomhide Raptor Not Included.)

The Retaking the Echo Isles event was part Wrathgate, part BG, part Raid, and thoroughly enjoyable.  Sure, you're buffed to the point where you won't take any damage, but you actually get to participate as part of a group in one of these Lore events, not as a single toon.  This was a real undertaking, and Vol'jin and Co. impart a degree of seriousness to the event that is very welcome.  The entire event could have turned into an excuse for bad puns and terrible jokes, but by keeping the tone serious I think Blizz hit this out of the park.

When Vol'jin asked for the aid of the spirits in his undertaking, he made it plain his motives were for his people.  In that respect, it was an eerie echo of the end of the Wrathgate event, where an inconsolable Thrall is in the throne room of the Undercity, and he's talking to Saurfang the Elder about how all his hopes for his people have just been dashed.  Vol'jin, like Thrall, is thinking about his people first, the way a good leader should.  It's a lesson that Varian and Garrosh --and to a lesser extent Sylvanas-- have yet to learn.

It would not surprise me in the least that a major theme of Cataclysm is one that was learned at the end of the Battle of Mount Hyjal:  we have to all hang together, or we will most assuredly all hang separately.  To that end, history points out that people on rival factions who have fought together for a common cause do not think of themselves as enemies.  If Blizz wants to emulate history a bit, all of those people who fought in Northrend alongside the Argent Crusade are the perfect group to stand up to the ongoing war between the factions, saying that the fighting has to stop if the mortal races are going to save the world from Deathwing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


First picture of warrior tier 11 concept art.  And best of all, no PIGS ON THE SHOULDERS!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


"This is a freaking Loregasm out here!"

That was how someone in Gen Chat described the chaos surrounding Senjin Village last night.  I haven't seen framerates that low since Ruby Sanctum opened, and almost never in an area not called Dalaran or Orgrimmar.

I will freely admit that I avoided the High Tinker's call on my Alliance alts, but that's not due to any Horde bias.  My head hurt after watching framerates in the upper single digits while I was playing as Neve, and I didn't want to deal with that again.

Now, for few short comments about the Vol'jin's call to arms:
  • I loved the opening letter.  It was well written and spiced with a lot of true troll flavor.  You got the sense of "we're tired of being shoved out of the way, and we're not going to [expletive deleted] take it any more from Zalazane and his dark magic!"  If I've the bank space, I'm going to keep that sucker around for a while.
  • I thought it interesting that we got to ride bats when tossing the frog-spies onto the markers in the Echo Islands, and it was all done without a Forsaken NPC in sight.
  • The sight of riding into Senjin at the head of a group of Troll recruits on raptors was really cool.  "Don't mess with the voodoo, mon!"
  • The integration of the hidden Troll Druids into the lore was well done.  Since the Trolls were finally going to take back the Echo Isles and defeat Zalazane, they felt they could finally come out in the open and join Vol'jin.
  • There was a lot of annoyance that only L78 and up could finish the quest chain, and I can't say I blame people for that.  Here's the vital part of lore being added to, but a chunk of the WoW populace would be unable to participate.

When I run the quest chain as Q and on the Alliance Alts, I'll write those up.  But for now, this has me pumped.  We had the teaser with the Tauren speaking of the power of the Sun in Thunder Bluff and the Highborne showing up in the Temple of the Moon, and now there's this as an appetizer.  I can't wait until the next changes happen.

EtA:  Apparently the Take Back the Echo Islands Event is broken environment-wide.  So I haven't missed anything by not having Q run through the quest chain yet.

EtA:  It's fixed!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Finding a place to call home

So what is it about Warcraft that feels right for any individual player?

Is it a faction?  Maybe it's your chose faction?  Or perhaps you feel most at home playing a certain class or role.  I'm sure it's a combination of all of the above.

What about a literal place you call home in game?

One of the main differences between the Alliance and Horde main cities is the fact that there's housing.  Of all of my time playing as Horde and spending so much time being bored in Orgrimmar, the only place I could really call home is the bank roof or perhaps the rock next to the palm trees and mailbox outside the bank.

The Alliance cities however, seem to have an abundance of housing, albeit most of the doors in Stormwind are shut.  And I spent some time riding around the main cities recently looking for a spot that would feel the most homely for my character.

I'd like to first introduce you to my main character.  Deftig the proud Dwarf warrior.
Rawr!!  Fierce, ain't he!?

I found a spot that I think suits my character quite well.  Firstly, it's in Ironforge... and he's a Dwarf.  It just fits.  Additionally, I seem to prefer Ironforge to any of the other Alliance main cities.  I'm not sure why, perhaps it's because I worked in an iron foundry for a while myself, or the fact that it's centrally located and most importantly you don't have to take any fall damage when you port there and run out of the portal chamber (as opposed to Stormwind jumping off the mage tower, or falling down the side of the city in Org) - I don't know what that bothers me,  but it does.

The spot I've picked is in the Military Ward part of the city, and it's right between Craghelm's Plate and Chain and Timberline Arms.  Can't pick a nicer spot that that...

Riiiiiiight here

So with out any further ado...
Come on in!
Main room properly decorated (click to read text, I made it a bit small)

Yep, this house has it all; good location, perfect decorations, great neighbors, and it's quiet most of the time.

So what spot is home for you?  I'm looking forward to seeing some replies and hopefully some blog posts detailing your own homes in game, and the reasons why.