Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To do:

I've been accomplishing quite a few things on my "things to get done before Cataclysm" list.

Kill all of the Alliance faction leaders and obtain a black warbear
Become a grand master in fishing
Become a grand master in cooking
Raise unarmed weapon skill to 400
Get the classic raider achievement completed
Get the classic dungeon master
Get the outlands dungeon master
Get the outlands raider achievement completed - need a bunch still
Get the Champion of the Frozen Wastes completed
Get the Glory of the Hero Completed
Do a successful OS 3D - had some very very close attempts
Obtain any color Protodrake
Get the of Orgrimmar title
Get the Orgrimmar tabbard
Kill the Lich King - Working on it though!
Find a guild to experience current raid content with
Get my exploration achievements done - so much stuff I missed out on exploring while leveing being a DK

So, what's on your to do list?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brain... Hurts...

Today, Quintalan has met the enemy, and it is us.*

I had a bunch of good 5-man runs this morning, so when I took a late lunch I figured I'd squeeze in an extra 5-man PuG. Out pops Halls of Lightning, and I figure that'd work; it typically takes 1/2 hour to get the run in, and that'll fit perfectly into my lunchtime.

What I failed to accommodate for was a tank running absolutely wild. You know those entrance passages that have the General wandering around in them? He pulled. And pulled. And pulled. He almost literally pulled everything in that area -including the General- together at once.

I died. The mage died. We both ran back in to help finish the job before everyone else wiped.

We get to the second boss, and we lose the mage again. Because the tank keeps pushing forward, the healer and I can't rez the mage until there's a slight gap in the trash. We then proceed to have a full party wipe twice on said trash.

Somehow we survive the third boss, but then the mage, DK and I wipe twice on trash again. By this time, the mage had had it, and split. The replacement pops on in the middle of the fight and dies. He leaves. We get another replacement, who's spending the entire last part of the run saying stuff like "OMG!" in the party chat.

By this time I'm cursing heavily under my breath, but I want to finish this; we're so close. Then I get a glimpse of who the tank is: he starts talking about his World Cultures teacher, which means he's in high school, and he's probably on spring break.


We zap Loken, and I get the hell out of Dodge.

As I got up to get some ibuprofen, I kept thinking to myself, "Six Emblems of Triumph weren't worth this.**"

*Yes, I paraphrased the old Pogo comic strip.

**Four Badges from the run itself and two from the FLG tool.

Monday, March 29, 2010

News Flash

Quintalan learns to switch auras! Film at eleven!

Seriously, I never gave much thought to the aura I'm on when I was running an instance. Just turn on Retribution Aura and have at it. Okay, I've also been known to ignore the Crusader Aura that's been left on while flying around when the summons comes. And yeah, I occasionally forget to turn Crusader Aura on when flying.* (Stop laughing, Soul!)

But intentionally switching auras during an instance? Not on your life.

There were three pivotal moments for that in my aura education: taking out the Sons of Gruul; a forgettable Pit of Saron run; and perusing the details in the recount stats.

The sons of Gruul weren't an instance run. For those of you who quest, you already know that they're 5-man quests found in Blade's Edge in Outland, so why is this doing here? Because when I soloed those quests, I decided I needed more armor than what I was getting with all the buffs I was using, so I switched to Devotion Aura just prior to launching my attacks. Okay, my decision was also made in hindsight, because I felt that the first time I tried and failed to kill the first of the Sons of Gruul it was due to my taking too much damage. Since I wasn't about to simply replace my trusty old Sword of Justice (aka the tuning fork) that easily, I switched auras instead. That little boost seemed to do the trick as I was able to survive all of the encounters with the Sons of Gruul. Translation: even a Ret Pally can use Devotion Aura from time to time.

My second big learning came from a Pit of Saron run that didn't go quite so well. In that run we had one well geared tank who was taking a bunch of people new to the instance, and I was only on my second run at that. Well, we met Garfrost, and he had us for lunch. Twice. After that second wipe, I got tired of watching the frost stacks add up and switched on Frost Resistance Aura to help mitigate the frost damage. Between that and not having to run halfway across the area to find a boulder to break the contact for the frost debuff, we managed to survive that third time. (I believe the tank said "We have to find a boulder to break contact, don't scatter so broadly!" Hey, I was following the tank around. Me no dummy.)

That success with Garfrost gave me the insight that maybe it was better to switch auras more often, like when running up toward the final fight with Tyrannus. Or when the proto-drakes in Utgarde Keep start blasting fire.

My tweaking of the auras still bothered me, because I thought I was losing significant DPS just so I could mitigate the damage. On some of these high end instances my DPS count doesn't look very flattering, so I was wondering if I was hurting myself further in that area by switching out of Retribution Aura. Well, perusal of the recount data proved to me that I need not worry. Damage from Ret Aura was down in the pack after the Seals, Melee, and Divine Storm. With that knowledge in front of me, I felt better making smarter use of my Auras to help the team.

And besides, anything to help the healer works well with me.

*I have my excuses when farming for ore; Crusader Aura plus an epic mount mean that I zip by ore so fast it will occasionally not register in the searching. I've learned to leave Crusader Aura off when farming for Titanium.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting your money's worth

This is an interesting thing to think about (for me at least).

What qualifications must be me in order for you, as a player, to feel satisfied that your monthly subscription fee is justified.

I've looked at this a number of ways over the last few years of playing MMOs.

First is the the money to time ratio. For $15 you could go to the theaters and enjoy a new release and get entertainment for the next two hours (or less, you cheap Hollywood bastards). Or, for the same $15, you could go out to lunch twice.

For the same $15 though, you could enjoy as much time as you want in your favorite MMO. It's a flat rate. The only expense beyond the monthly fee is time. As with most things, you get better results when you invest more time towards it.

However, a subscription based MMO is a hobby, and a somewhat cheap one when you compare costs of other hobbies.

For instance, I recently stopped playing MMOs and thought it would be great to get into one of my childhood hobbies of building model airplanes. That hobby has come a long way in the last few years with the implementation of airbrush kits and thousands of paint colors and the sheer sophisticaion of the actual kits now days. When I was kid, I was lucky if the out come generally LOOKED like a plane. Now, however, the kits are engineered exactly to scale and whole websites are devoted to listing what is incorrect in each different release from manufacturers.

The point is, the expense of this hobby, if you feel the need to do things the "right" way, is rather costly. I probably invensted a good four or five hundred dollars in paints, materials, tools, and kits. I'm very glad I did though, becuase now I have another hobby that I actually find quite relaxing (or maybe it's just the glue). Do I feel my amateur attempts at building models is worth the money invested? Yep. Becuase I accomplished what I wanted to. I built a few models, got the tools I needed to do things properly, and enjoyed my time doing so. And I will continue to enjoy my time in the future, because I'm set up propperly to do so.

Now lets apply this to my MMO of choice. I got my model (character) built (leveled), I got my tools (gear), and I got all my painting done (properly specc'd and geared for content), and now I want to put that final coating of polish on (ZOMG, icc25 purples) before I slap it up on my display shelf (dalaran).

The problem, currently, is the shelf is falling apart(can't get enough people for 10 man runs), and the polish is wearing off (frustration).

So what do you do? Get some duct tape and get prop the shelf up on the wall and hope it doesn't fall over again and smash your models? Or, get a new shelf on a new wall and hope you picked a better spot this time...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nothing to See Here

There's commercial during football season where a guy dressed as a ref compares the distance to first down. If the distance is a couple of inches away, it's "drama". A couple of feet away, and it's "change the channel."


"Change the channel."

I was thinking about that when I was reading Righteous Orbs today about Guild drama. When you join a group organized around a common goal, human nature will eventually cause some conflicts. In Tamarind's case, I'd followed the drama from his previous guild through his posts until his own entries came back to haunt him.

Tam's posts brought home the issues of blogging about guilds. Blogs are by nature public endeavors, and even though we very rarely get a comment from someone other than ourselves, you can't assume that nobody is watching. (On my personal blog, I've been constantly surprised by who stops by.)

Why bring this up? Well, my old guild consisted of myself, Soul, Soul's wife, one of Soul's coworkers, and one other guy who was on maybe once or twice. If that guild was Mayberry, my current guild is more like Chicago; the 180+ members listing is inflated by alts, but even if there were three alts per person the guild would have roughly 60 members. Sure, it isn't the size of some of the huge guilds out there, but it's far larger than what I'm used to seeing. When you're walking through Dalaran on an evening, the crowd size actually helps you become anonymous; Quintalan is just another Blood Elf out for an evening stroll between the JC house and the Sunreavers pavilion. Nothing to see here, move along. In a moderately sized guild, however, there you are. You might as well be Norm walking into Cheers.

Even if the guildies don't know about this blog, you can't assume that will stay that way in the future. Guild business (and any guild drama) ought to remain in the guild, and airing dirty laundry in public like this does no good. What's good for Tamarind is good for him, and that's fine as far as it goes, but I'm not Tam. I try to keep my observations about WoW based on things that happened out there in the public realm, so if you're looking for guild drama, you won't find it here.

That said, I will post one item that happened shortly after I joined the guild. I was on early in the morning and I had just finished my Jewelcrafting Daily. Even that early in the morning, Dalaran was busy and Gen Chat was crazy. I was just hitting the logoff button to switch to my bank alt when I saw a "do a /who Grey Death Legion" scroll by in the chat.

Wait.... what?

Before the screen could disappear on me, I saw the following exchange:

"what's a grey death legion?"
"a guild that won't let you cuss in gchat"

My first thought was to log back in as Quint and say something, but the sleepy logical part of my brain caught up with me and overruled that idea. There's no sense in wrestling with a pig in Gen Chat, and people believe what they want to believe. Besides, if that's the worst thing that someone can say about my guild, then things are in fairly good shape.

(Hell, I can rip loose a good stream of profanity quite easily, but I have no problems whatsoever working with a group that frowns on that.)


I haven't posted this yet, so I thought I would mention my user interface.

Addons I use:

  • AtlasLoot - Lets me see who drops what gear as well as crafted gear and the materials to make them
  • Chatter - Chat window mods that make it much smoother and look better
  • Dominos - Get rid of the ugly standard wow hotbars and lets you gain more screen real estate
  • MikScrollingBattleText - I like this one better than the build in version of this
  • Omen
  • PitBull Unit frames - clean looking and very customizable.
  • Recount
  • SexyCooldown - seen just above my hot bars, it gives a nice indication how long until skills are usable again
  • Threat Plates - turns name plates green, and shrinks the size of them when I have aggro, and when I don't have aggro, it makes them large and red. Great mod for a tank to yank back a runner (this is an option for Tidy Plates)
  • Tidy Plates - Cleaner looking name plates

Basic layout

UI in action:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fun and Excitement with Questing

I was catching up on Darth Solo's posts on WoW Alone when he commented in this post about how he couldn't stand questing in the Old World (Classic WoW's locations), and how much better Outland and Northrend are by comparison. That got me to thinking about my own questing experiences; while I can see Darth's point, there are plenty of quirks out there that balance out the questing throughout the WoW environment.

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a quest whore -as Souldat calls me- and I've an ultimate goal of having Quintalan reach that Seeker achievement. I'm roughly 600-650 quests away from Loremaster, and from there only about 100 or so to reach 3000 and the Seeker. For my alts, I'm not planning on being so thorough; there's no need, really, with the exception of the class specific quests. (By comparison, an achievement such as Explorer on a PvE server isn't nearly as impressive as on a PvP server; there aren't many Alliance gankers you have to worry about when exploring on a PvE server.) Nevertheless, there are some major differences in how the quests were designed to push a character along in Classic WoW vs. the two expansions.

Blizzard designed the quests in Classic WoW to push a player from region to region when the appropriate quests opened up. This is still used in BC and Northrend, but instead of viewing each expansion continent as a whole, Blizzard focused more on individual regions. You can see that in the quest achievements themselves; in the Old World, the quest achievements are for each continent, not for completing quests in a given region. BC and WotLK have achievements for clearing each region which add up to the Loremaster meta-achievement.

It seems that in the Old World there were more options for leveling in a specific range, say for the 20s: you could go to Hillsbrad, Thousand Needles, Ashenvale, Duskwood, Stonetalon, Wetlands or even Stranglethorn if you're feeling brave. The breadth of locations to work with means that you can work on your questing as, say, a Tauren and never have to visit the Eastern Kingdoms at all. Blizzard seems to have compensated for this by putting in these oddball quests that have you traipsing back and forth between two continents just to talk to different specific people, who then tell you to go hunt for stuff in an instance. For example, you're in Arathi and you stumble on the quest chain that leads you to Tarren Mill, the Undercity, Senjin Village, Zul'Farrak, and lord knows where else. It's clever on the face of it, but without flying mounts you have to make more connections than trying to get from Atlanta to Anchorage on Jet Blue. The travel time gets to be tedious, and you often start to wonder whether the quest chain is worth it.

Outlands quests narrowed the scope to a more manageable level -and the addition of flying mounts helped tremendously- but there still is a maddening tendency to insert cross region dependencies on some quest chains. This wouldn't be that big of an issue unless you're trying to reach the Loremaster of Outland achievement, where you find you're perpetually short of quests in a region (Nagrand and Hellfire Peninsula are two big offenders) until you come across a quest in Shadowmoon Valley that sends you to those regions.

With Wrath of the Lich King, the quests evolved further. The maturing ability of Blizzard to mix in an overarcing quest chain with the more narrowly focused ones really kept the pace brisk. That was most felt in Dragonblight (Wrathgate), The Storm Peaks (Thorim and Brann Bronzebeard), and Icecrown (Argent Crusade and Knights of the Ebon Blade). Blizzard's fancy phasing tech has a tremendous impact here as well; no more equivalents of killing Dar'khon and then finding him respawn a few minutes later. "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome Necromancer?" (Apologies to King Henry II for that little quip.)

I must admit that the phasing technology has me biased toward the Northrend quests; I found them much more interesting than some of the grinding you feel like you're doing on the other regions. Ironically enough, I like the Outland quests the least. Perhaps it's because the changes were half baked, but I often felt like I spent hours hunting around Outland for an individual quest that would put me over the top for an achievement, and I would spend an equal amount of time perusing thottbot and wowwiki as well.

Classic WoW has a bizarre sort of appeal to me. It was by design big and broad, and the concept of trying to check out everything is a daunting task. The things that Blizzard put in place for Classic WoW may have made sense when they designed it, but the creakiness of the Old World is pretty apparent these days. Yes, I hope that Cataclysm will bring a Northrend style focus to old Azeroth, but I've a certain amount of fondness for the meandering (and maddening) nature of some of the Old World questing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This morning I had something happen to me that I wasn't expecting.

I pulled aggro in the Pit of Saron.

On a DK tank that was well over 5000 in the gear score, with over 40k health.

Yes, Quint and his half epic/half blue gear managed to pull aggro. I was the most undergeared of the bunch -I checked- but I somehow managed to perform that feat.

I did apologize afterward and kept a closer eye on the threat meter, but I still shook my head about it later. I figured that with the Hunter and the DK similarly geared the Hunter had a better chance of pulling aggro -and he did, I might add- but I was still shocked when I managed it.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Thanks for putting most of the local teams on television today. Because of that, I was able to take a half day off and make up for the time I wasted waiting for a tank and a healer who actually wanted to run Ahn'kahet this morning. I was talking with another Guildie today who also gets up early, and we both agreed the tanks haven't been that great in the random PuGs this past week.

I don't suppose ol' Soul would mind waking up at 5 AM? ;-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tanks for the Memories

Everytime I play WoW, I learn something new. Sometimes my enlightenment is simple, like finding a new location where Titanium Ore could spawn. Other times, it's an admonishment that you're not quite there yet, like the spanking I got when I tried to solo the Rider of Frost in Northrend. I personally prefer the last variety, where I surprised myself by being able to do something -like the time I buzzed Teldrassil collecting the coins of Ancestry with four 80's on my tail and roughly 1k of health left. (Have I mentioned lately that I love Crusader Aura?)

Today's last early morning run through the Halls of Stone produced one of that third variety.

The run didn't start out that interesting; three of us had just finished a Culling of Stratholme run, and I had about 45-50 minutes available. That CoT run was unremarkable, which is always a good thing. (Well, the Druid healer had an annoying tendency to run ahead of everyone else, but I guess he figured I'd rez him if he wiped.) After CoT finished the tank suggested a last run, and both the Mage and I were fine with that.

Our group for the HoS run consisted of: Warrior (Tank), Priest (Healer), Mage (DPS), Warlock (DPS), and Quintalan (DPS).

The first trash mob went okay, but during the second and third a few problems became apparent:

  • The tank had issues keeping threat. The Dark Iron dwarves stuck with him, but the Stormforged had an annoying tendency to overshoot him and go after either me or one of the others, which meant I had to lay off of some of my attacks, drawing out the fight a bit further.
  • The lock was a Boomkin. The tank had enough problems, but everytime that Boomkin laid an attack in, about a third of the trash would peel off after him.
  • The Priest was struggling under the strain. I didn't get the time to inspect him, but I think he had some other issues in addition to constantly running out of mana. The tank told him to let him know if he needed to drink, and then he would only drink just enough to get to 40% before the tank would take off again.

On the fourth trash mob everything hit the fan. The Boomkin had the Stormforged aggro on him, the Warrior tank peeled away from the trash to go chase the Stormforged. The trash didn't follow the tank and aggroed on me instead. The Priest ran out of mana, my bubble expired, and both the Boomkin and I wiped. Everyone else followed suit.

When we all ran back inside, a big fight broke out. The Priest accused the Warrior of being a terrible tank, and the Warrior shot back about the Priest's poor healing. The Boomkin kind of kept quiet, which was smart for him given that he was pulling aggro so much. And me? I filled up my coffee mug, settled in, and watched the show. I had a little over a half an hour left, so I knew that if I dropped I might not squeeze in another run. Besides, it was nice to not be in the middle of a Tank/Healer spat.

Eventually the Warrior had it, and floated a resolution to kick the Priest out. The Priest split before everyone could vote, so we queued up for a replacement. Thankfully, this one was seriously overgeared (I checked), so at least one of three problems was solved.

We survived the rest of the dungeon until we got to Sjonnir. If I had a dollar every time the Boomkin pulled aggro on that boss, I'd have enough for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Even the overgeared Priest couldn't keep up, and the tank and Boomkin both wiped.

That's when I became the tank.

Sjonnir started chasing the Mage and Priest back down the entrance, and I overtook him from behind, pulling aggro back on me. All we had to do was last about 10% of the boss' health, and I turned on Righteous Fury and just started wailing away, using Lay on Hands to bring myself back to full health. The Mage turned back and zapped Sjonnir a few times and I just kept going with as many Holy spells as possible until he fell over.

Considering that I was the only melee person left, it made sense that I'd pretend to be a tank for a few desperate minutes. If Sjonnir had more health we'd all probably have wiped, but he didn't. If I had to hunt for Righteous Fury instead of having it on one of my bars, it could have gone bad as well. (Don't ask why I stuck it at the bottom of one of the bars, I had it in the "just in case" corner I usually stick the "summon drake" from The Oculus.)

I once mentioned in a previous post that if you're the only melee in the group left, you become the tank by default. I'd written that when I was doing PvP in Warsong Gulch, but I didn't really internalize that with 5-man instances. I've been in enough groups where the tank wipes and the rest of us follow suit, so having a group survive a tank death in a boss fight is kind of a surprise. By comparison, Quint has less than half of the Health that Souldat has, and even if Quint had similar gear levels but for Ret Spec he'd still be well under Soul's health level. Such a disparity is not good for the fill-in tank, but it doesn't need to be for emergencies. All you have to do is survive.

That is about as much exposure to being a tank as I want. The amount of trust a tank must have in the healer makes me nervous in a PuG. You're much better off being overgeared than relying heavily on an unknown element. However, the point of the group is trust; you trust everyone to do their job so that the team can survive. And you have to trust that if someone fails, they learn and get better for the next run.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Random Musings

None of these rise to the level of needing a separate post, so here they are.

  • I've discovered the Joy of Kiting. Paladins aren't really made for kiting, since you preferably want a ranged attack that you can slow your opponent with. My current spell list for a Shadow Priest isn't the greatest for kiting either, since the spells that I've got with a speed reduction (Mind Flay) end once the spell ends. A mage -more specifically a frost mage- is much better suited for this fun little pasttime with Blink, Frostbolt, Ice Nova, Ice Barrier, and Frostbite to play with. I spent a half an hour yesterday kiting bears and whatnot into the range of the Tarren Mill Deathguards while I was in between coats of paint, and although I don't have it quite down yet, it's rather fun watching the Deathguards hack the spiders to bits. (Yes, I was doing this instead of watching paint dry on the front door.) I've read stories about groups kiting bosses all the way to major cities, and I can definitely see the appeal.
  • Shadow Priests are more mana efficient than Fire and Frost Mages. I expected a Shadow Priest to be more mana efficient than a Fire Mage, but the Frost Mage surprised me. That Spirit Tap comes in handy more than I care to admit. I haven't tinkered with an Arcane Mage, but I suspect that at this level (low 20's) it doesn't really matter.
  • A Mage -particularly one with Ice Barrier active- handles damage better than a Priest. Yes, I know that Priests have the healing spells, but in a PvE questing environment that Ice Barrier spell keeps a Mage's cloth armor (or a sissy robe, as Tamarind on Righteous Orbs puts it) nice and clean.
  • Running a Paladin is easier than either a Priest or a Mage. A Paladin -particularly a Ret Spec or a low level Holy Spec version- is a "run up and hit something" type. There's not a lot of variety to the Pally's attacks in the 20's. A Shadow Priest or a Mage, however, has a wider arsenal to work with. Keeping track of those extra spells can be quite a challenge if you're not ready.
  • That little Emerald Boar trinket comes in awfully handy soloing 5 man elites in Outland. It's rather nice getting a virtual tank for 30 seconds, allowing Quint a short breather from the steady flow of damage. Too bad the sucker isn't an epic level trinket.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Apparently, I'm Taken

Well, that was a brief bachelorhood.

I am no longer wild and free to chase the winds as I wish, reveling in the solitude among the masses. Quint is now a guilded Blood Elf. Again.

Okay, things aren't going to change too much, because I doubt there'd be any more guildies than me on at 5 AM, but you never know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Early Bird Gets the PuG

Most of the time when I play WoW is early in the morning. Sure, I've got the once weekly time set aside to hang with Souldat and his wife, but I've settled into a routine where I play before I have to get the kids up for school. Since I'm up really early to go work out, I slip in some WoW time between 5-7 AM.

When I was on Stormscale (Pacific Time Zone server), that early time was great for dailies. You could get some dailies done, and then the server time would hit the 3 AM reset (6 AM my time in EST) and you could do the dailies again. It was also ideal for exploring; the likelihood of running into a pack of 80's while checking out Elwynn Forest was remote, particularly during midweek.

Ironically enough, I found the same competition for mining resources during those wee hours as I did at other times. Three of us (two Horde, one Alliance) would be duking it out for the same titanium ore in Icecrown, and you got used to being jumped just when you thought the coast was clear.

If there was one drawback to the early morning solo time, it's that the players for random heroic 5-man runs were few and far between. It wasn't an issue when I was handling the regular solo quest work, but now that I'm soloing the instances in Outland and the 5-man quests in Icecrown, I need to work on my gear. That means badges and instance runs.

Switching to an Eastern Time Zone server has it's drawbacks for some solo work -such as the dailies- but it's been easier to use the LFG tool to pull in a few runs. The last time I tried the LFG tool on Stormscale at that time, after about 45 minutes I gave up. When I tried using it for the first time that early on Area 52 --I chose an Azjol-Nerub run rather than purely random for the speed factor (10-15 minutes if you do it quickly)-- I only waited about 12 minutes before I got in and was on my way.

Not bad.

The irony of getting some 5-man runs in this early in the morning is that the pure randomness of the tool is defeated by the lack of players. For example, today's first run (the Oculus) had not only the same two guys from the Exodar server I saw yesterday (including one well run Druid tank), but another repeat player from a separate server. After a relatively painless run through the Oculus which included the occasional joke about needing coffee, we stayed together for a second run, this time through Utgarde Keep.

I had to beg off after Utgarde, but the quality of the PuGs in the 5 AM slot had me impressed. Compared to the lunchtime fare, the early morning runs are more about getting in, getting it done, and getting out. (Yeah, I know, insert tasteless jokes here.) I had yesterday's Azjol-Nerub run take twice as long as usual because the three guildies in the group had decided to go for the Hadronox Denied achievement without telling the other two of us, and that fight included both the healer and one DPS dying and running back to get into the fight.

If I had to choose between the two, I'd go for the early morning runs. They feel less like kids on lunch break at college and more like parents squeezing in WoW time before getting ready for work. I can get 2 to 3 runs in fairly quickly, get some questing done in Outland, and then I'm ready to start the day.

(It's still amazing that Dalaran is never empty, even at 5 AM. Org is dead then, but Dal? No way. I wonder whether Blizzard is planning on trying to spread the Dalaran concentration out a bit in Cataclysm, but I have no idea how they'd do it.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hellscream's warsong

So you may have had a surprise when you zoned in to Icecrown Citadel this week. Everyone has a awfuly nice buff applied to them. What does this buff do?

The current (and we'll get this in a bit) is this:
Hellscream's Warsong
The warsong of Hellscream fills you with strength, increasing total health, healing done and damage dealt by 5%.

Now you can look at this two ways.
  1. zomg, they nerfed icc? casuals are ruining teh gaem!
  2. A buff to actually help us down that bastard of a boss (I'm looking at you, Saurfang) we're stuck on ? SWEET!

If you can't tell, I'm more of the mind set of the second option.

The nice thing about about this change, however, is that Blizzard gave you the option of declining the buff if you so choose. You can go on about your business as the hardcore raider and do things the hard way.

Where as currently with the group of wonderful people I raid with, we are more casual. We tend to bring alts or offspec people along to make due with what we've got. And it works for us. Gear for your offspec is obviously not going to be as good as your main spec, but you don't need 5 tanks for a ten man. So this buff will help us out and help progress us through the content.

Do I feel cheap for using the buff? No. I'm glad that Blizzard is giving everyone the opportunity to eventually see the content. I was one of the lucky ones in vanilla to see every raid but one. I was not one of the lucky ones to see all of the raids in BC. But I'm doing my best to make sure I see every raid in Wrath.

And to get back to a mention I made earlier in this post, the buff will eventually change to a 30% increase over time. What does that mean?

  1. Guilds that may be struggling will be able to progress pretty easily.
  2. PUG groups will have an easier time bringing under geared members.
  3. I'm going to have a shit ton of HP! Almost FIFTY NINE THOUSAND hit points. Muahahaha

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Um... Oookay....

I don't pretend to have done a boatload of heroics*, but today's quick and simple farming run through Azjol-Nerub had to be one of the stranger ones I've been in.

We had:

  • Three players whose entire conversations consisted of "?". Not once, not twice, but at least 20 times. I mean, I can understand if you're puzzled about one thing, but when you're doing "?" the entire run, I have to wonder what's going on. While we were getting our buffs ready, one of the guys said "Pit of Saron?" No, dude, the sign said "Azjol-Nerub".
  • The healer died early in the first trash before the first boss, and the tank kept pressing on anyway. I was the only other party member with rez capability, and the tank engaged the trash mob before I could start my rezzing. The healer runs back, and what does he do? Runs right in front of the next trash mob before he's not even back to 100%. ::sigh::
  • The tank had some major difficulty holding threat. At one point I looked at the damage meter and found to my surprise I was on top (Paladins + Glyph of Sense Undead + Scourge = extra damage), but I knew I wasn't pulling the threat. I suspect the Hunter with his pet, but I've no proof.
  • The tank died on some trash right before Anub'arak, and we're all standing around, puzzled. "Where did he go?" I asked. He was right behind me when we were swimming to shore, and the next thing I knew he was lying dead on the shore next to me.
  • The healer was running around not healing anything for a while in the Anub'arak fight, so I had to heal myself and the tank for a minute or so.

I've seen my share of strange group behavior, but this bunch put the fun in dysfunctional.

*Considering what I've bought with badges and had left over, I had to have had at least 120 badges when that "100 Badge" achivement popped up. I wonder if the count got messed up during the transfer between realms.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oh Brother

Can't a guy create a bank alt without any of the following happening?
  • Getting wolf whistled
  • Having a female character say "you're so sexy!"
  • Getting an escort from another female character who makes a point of of emoting "XXX checks you out"

Just what is it about rogues, anyway?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

PVE vs. PVP (Or How I Spent My Lunchtime)

The past couple of lunch breaks I've been able go online and take care of some stuff I've been working on, like soloing Sethekk Halls and finishing up the Terror of Terokkar achievement. It's been a bad week at work, so the opportunity to go thwack something has its advantages. Today, while taking a run through Drak'Tharon to finish up the Guru of Drakuru achievement, I had some spare time* to think about the differences between PVE and PVP servers.

When you are out and about questing on a PVP server, the first thing you notice is that the monsters aren't what you need to fear the most, it's the opposing faction. Nothing quite strikes terror into your heart like when you're minding your own business, killing a few bears, and you turn to see the sight of a ?? Level player closing in on your poor 20th Level character. You learn very quickly to keep one eye over your shoulder no matter where or when you are; even when you're an 80 zipping through Thousand Needles you can still get jumped. (Stupid Gnome hunters.)

Such caution serves you well when you reach Outland and Northrend with the inclusion of flying mounts; all you have to do is spend an evening farming ore or herbs and you'll understand what I mean. In Icecrown, the game encourages you to seek and destroy the opposing faction with the inclusion of a Daily for killing a certain number of the enemy. Never mind that the Ebon Blade and Argent Crusade are pulling their hair out over this ("Hello! We're supposed to be fighting Arthas, not helping him!"), you get to go gank some people because the game said so!

Now, take that hard earned wisdom, and turn it on it's head. That's what it's like switching to a PVE server.

When my Mage first ventured into Hillsbrad Foothills as a young lass of 20 (yeah, I live dangerously given the number of monsters aggroing on me) I was shocked -shocked!- to see Alliance players passing me on the road and actually waving from time to time. The last time I saw an Alliance player wave at me was because they were trying to play nice and didn't want me to gank them, as I had the drop on the guy at the time. Once Quint arrived in town, I then discovered that this overall lack of fear toward the opposing faction wasn't limited to the Classic areas. Imagine my surprise at seeing a Draeneii Paladin go running right by me while I'm soloing one of those tunnel worm elites outside of Auchindoun. I know I had to be an ?? Level player to him as he was 65th Level, but there was absolutely no fear of the opposing faction in this guy**.

What do I think of this? Well....

For the quester, this is a godsend. You can go about your business without worrying whether just over the ridge is a Hunter ready to zap you from distance. For the casual player, it's a boon as they can work on those seasonal achievements in relative peace --until you venture into a capital city, that is. If you want to PVP, nobody is stopping you from flipping that switch on your character, but you don't have to join in if you don't want to.

The flip side is that you develop some very bad habits. There's a reason why there are opposing factions, and you don't have quite the same dislike for the other team without the occasional ganking. When Quintalan made 80, I fulfilled my vow to park him on a ridge overlooking Tarren Mill, waiting for the gankers to show. None did on those nights, but when a 77 Level Priest decided to pick on Grom'gol Outpost in Stranglethorn, I gave him a good old fashioned spanking. If the worst an Alliance character can to do you is say "neener-neener" after he got that titanium ore first, well, you don't have quite that same healthy disrespect for him.

Am I going back to a PVP server or flipping that switch to play PVP? For the mage, definitely not; I'm still learning the ropes there, and I know that her progression up to about 40-50 will be a slow road without all the PVP ganking going on. For Quint, I might flip that switch, if for nothing else to remind myself to stop getting into bad habits.

There's a war to be won, after all.

(Edit: Changed the first sentence in the last paragraph to avoid confusion.)

* Our DK tank dumped us after we wiped right before Trollgore, so we were stuck waiting for about 10-15 minutes until we got a new tank. Ah, the joys of a lunchtime run. I'm still not certain what happened there, but when I'm doing the highest DPS of the group, you know we've got a low DPS group. The new tank laughed when she saw our output. "That's all your DPS?" she asked. However, after that initial wipe we didn't have any issues throughout the rest of the run.

Oh, and Drakuru? You suck, man. I'd already kicked your sorry behind in Zul'Drak, but it needed to be said.

** He also had no fear of that elite monster, either, which proved to be fatal as when it tunneled to a short distance to spit at me, it aggroed on him instead. Sorry, dude.