Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Story I Want to Post

You have no idea how much I want to post a sweet sweet write up about a guild run in the freshly reset kara instance. Of gathering up 10 guildies who worked out some of the basic kinks of 10-man instancing last week, and taking the stables down like a team of commandos. And then heading up those damn stairs and serving Morose some of his own suckling pig. A story of epics and badges galore, with some wipes, but enough rep to allow us noobs to get repairs without leaving the zone.

I want to write that story so much that I'd be willing to walk miles in the 80 mph wind, sub-freezing temperatures, and flesh ripping wind-blown snow that's going on outside my window just to get to a computer terminal with access to blogger, just to be able to write that story for you.

But, I try to keep the stories here in the realm of reality, so while I will be traversing the out-of-doors through the giant train wreck of a winter storm, I will however not be posting any such beautiful fiction about a kara run.

Only one week into our raiding schedule and we had a complete and total flop. Didn't even go through the door and see the inside.

Approaching the start time, both tanks, one healer, and three DPS were logged in. The expected RL had contacted the guild leader and let him know he'd be an hour late, so unless we want to wait, we should just go without him.

Of course, our vocal and ever-"friendly" backup RL came over the intercom (yes, intercom. you can use vent or voice chat, but i'm using an intercom, damn it) with such bitter animosity, you'd think he was standing outside my building in this wind naked at the time. Adamant that we wait for NOONE!!!!!! Ok, Mr. Im-a-mage-who-barely-out-damages-the-tanks-and-yet-insists-that-we-skip-ahead-to-curator-because-it-has-drops-i-want-even-though-we-barely-clear-the-stables-and-besides-you-gotta-clear-moroes-before-continuing-on-anyways-but-i-dont-know-that-since-my-head-is-up-my-ice-blocked-@ss-90%-of-the-time-and-the-other-10%-of-the-time-im-so-busy-verbally-abusing-people-with-my-own-arrogance-its-painful-even-to-my-pet-fish.

Next up, you've got this guy and a few of the others flagging themselves for PvP right outside the dungeon, and they're playing spank the monkey with some hordies.


First complaining about not waiting for ANYONE, and now, no effort whatsoever to fill in a team.

Bitter much?

I start to look through the guild ranks and look for subs. Only two other healers on at the moment. One is pretty new, and tells me he'll join. Cool. The other is a priest who's been in the guild for about 20 minutes at this point. He says "what does keyed mean?" So he's out.

Ok, still need 2 DPS and 1 healer.

I ask a rogue from the guild, and he's pumped and says he'll be there after a quick repair and buy some poisons or some such rogue-ish stuff. Sweet.

Need 1 more DPS. Ask another hunter from the guild. He says "if there's room, sure." I say "come on down, you're the next contestant."

The 2nd healer gets invited into the group now. He says....

So what're we doing tonight?


cool, what's that?

karazhan, the 10-man raid dungeon you joined the guild to play

oh, is that the key thingie?

Do you have the master's key yet?

I think i got a shart

His typo on shard was the only thing that kept me calm at this point.

I then looked in LFM and just plain old /who and then looked up any lvl 70 priest, paladin, shammy, or druid who wasnt in an instance or BG on the armory, and whispered about 10 people who were a resto or holy spec.


Next thing I know, one of the raid members who's been screaming into his mic about where the pvp hordies in deadwind pass are hiding says


Huh? we've got 5, plus warrior and bear?

Nope, I'm DPS, not bear.

When this happen?

Somebody told me to respec DPS for our Kara team.


I dont remember.


The other day.

Good thing we're not physically near eachother because if so, i'd probably have a jar with a human throat in it on my mantle.

Ok, so i tell the hunter class captain that there's been a mistake, so he's uninvited. So sorry. He was cool about it, but I felt like crap.

Next thing you know, with no notice, the raid group gets disbanded.

No discussion, no talk, no team involvement. Just a disband.

I actually typed /gquit. Didn't hit enter, but felt good to type it.

It was at this point that some deity somewhere actually shined down upon me, and did something for my own good, for a change.

My connection started to lag hardcore. I disconnected about 8 times in a row. No reboots or router restarts would fix it.

No WoW!!!!

So I went and sat on the couch with my GF and my pup, and watched American Idol and went to bed early.

Despite the crappy start, I couldn't have asked for a better night. F - WoW.

I mean, really folks. Have you ever been in 80 mph winds? Its pure insanity. The air gets sucked from your lungs. Your clothes threaten to rip off your body. Any pocketbooks or man bags that you carry hover parallel to the ground, straining at the end of their straps. Cats and dogs, living together (well, flying through the air, actually)....mass hysteria.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Relentless @ss

With my new intro to raiding, and my opening up to new consumables, my favorite auction search term has become "relentless @ss".

I'm not sure whether its an attribute desireable to seek out in a mating partner, or if its a condition caused by drinking water in countries whose native flora have yet to make acquaintence with one's digestive system.

Either way, it'll run ya roughly 40g a pop, and its making me want to pick up alchemy more and more.

So I return to my endless professional struggle.

To keep mining/herbalism on my main toon, or switch to either alchemy/herbalism or skinning/leatherworking.

I decided to roll the dice and let fate, and the Auction House, decide for me.

One of the things I've grown to enjoy about dual gathering is the giant pile of gold that accumulates with minimal effort. Especially while questing, as you just pass by lots of herbs and mineral deposits on your merry way. Also nice once you get your epic flight, which won't take you too long, as you've got giant piles of gold.

Then my epic spending spree on enchants, reputation turn-in items, alt professions (most notably enchanting, alchemy, tailoring, and engineering), gear for alts, enchants for alts, Amava's purses, banker alt guild vault tabs, and so on.

Add to that a giant nosedive in the herb market, and I've been wondering if a change would be a good thing, as I've not really been getting the enjoyment that minimum 4-digit piles of gold provide.

To start off, to remind me of why I dual gather in the first place, I went flying around all over the Outlands, herbing and mining every thing in sight. Emptied out my bags to allow for more bag space, and then filled/emptied my bags over and over and over, and shipped everything off to my AH mule.

Herbs were sent to the market pretty much as they came in, with whatever stack size I had handy.

Minerals were smelted into bars and then saved in the guild vault.

Motes were converted to primals and also saved in the guild vault.

This has been going on for a while now, with an increased push towards focused farming over the last week or two.

Primal stacks of all types filled up and then occupied additional bank slots. Fel Iron Bar stacks filled up. Eternium Bars, heck, even Khorium ore (not sure if I want to smelt them puppies yet) is almost a full stack now.

But my true love. My baby. Hardened Adamantite Bars.

Finally hit a stack of them. Which if my calculations are correct, means 400 Adamantite Ores.

It was time to let the fates and AH rule the future of my professions.

The deal was, I'm allowed to post it on the AH three times. If it expires three times, without dropping the stack price below 350g, then I was going to do a /roll. Greater than 50 meant Skinning/Leatherworking, and less than 50 meant Herbalism/Alchemy. An exact 50 meant I would keep the current Mining/Herbalism, just to keep it interesting.

First shot, with less than two hours left on the auction, buyout at 354g.


So I remain a dual-gatherer main, with lots of low-level crafting alts.

At least until I acrue another stack of Hardened Adamantite Bars, which has become my mining litmus test.

And I took the 354g and bought enough Relentless @ss to last me through several weeks of raiding

Fishing in Zangarmarsh

While clearing out some space on my alt guild vault and Amava's bank slots, I found stacks and stacks of fish that I've been collecting from the cooking daily quest barrel of fish which I keep picking until I get the Chocolate Cake recipe.

I can't cook these fishies, so I looked up some recipes on wowhead. Come to find a few nice recipes for sale up in Zangarmarsh. Fly up there, talk to the vendor, and see a book that's shaded red, indicating its useless to me.

Hmmm, seems to teach Master fishing. Hmmm, when can I learn it? 275? Hmmmmm, I wonder how close I am? 273?

Sweet. I haven't really been paying attention to the skill level, but I've been whipping out my pole whenever I get a chance during down time.

Quick like a bunny, I fish the waters right next to the vendor. With an aquadynamic fish attractor, it was letting me catch a fish a little bit more than 50% of the time.

The fun part was a lvl 61 priest who was trying to run away from some aquatic 3-headed mob. I was standing there, minding my own business, fishing away. I see him, and target him just to watch his health for fun. When he got close to dead, I felt badk and hit Ctl-1 and Cringer took the mob out lickety split.

Went on like that for the 10 minutes that I was using that aquadynamic fish attractor. The guy just kept dragging mobs back to me, and I'd keep having Cringer kill them.

So now I'm a Master Fisherman.

Loooooooong way to375, but this is the first time I'm fishing higher level waters, and I'm seeing that there's gold in them thar ponds. Motes of water, FTW. Expensive fishes, that cook into even more expensive buff foods, FTW. A pile of debris floated by, literally spawning directly where my bobber was already. I fished 7 crates out of there. Mailed them to alts to open up and find weather beaten journals in 3 of them, FTW!!!!

As the Dust Settles

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume I'm describing a situation that is pretty normal for a guild that's just starting its first Karazhan raiding.

The aftermath of the first run.

With roughly 25 players attuned for kara, including 10 hunters, 5 tanks, 3 healers, and a bunch of other DPS, you're clearly not going to make everyone happy with an invite to join the team. Difficult decisions need to be made that should be centered around some people issues (who are the individuals who will personally fit in well, and who are the people who have done lots to help out the guild) and some performance issues (who's got the gear, skills, ability to use consumables, and just plain old performance in their role on the WWS report).

Long story short, I guess the GM got a ton of players coming to him after that first run saying that they don't agree with the selections, they feel they were shorted, they're threatening to /gquit, etc etc etc. Then come wednesday evening, you've got a handfull of guildies spamming on LFG/LFM or Shatt's general channel, or even Trade (gahhhhh) that they're "LFM kara, only need 8 more".

And the scary part is, I totally understand. I'd have been royally pissed and probably just stealth quit if I wasn't on the team. But then again, I'm a sore loser and a prima dona, so that's consistent with my overall presence :-) But I do my homework and bust my @ss to make sure I've got my position solid, to make the leaders' decisions easier.

So GM approaches me and the other officers with the problem of how to keep everybody happy.

Solution 1: Recruit more healers. We've got some tanks to spare, and lordy knows, DPS players (in title, if not in actual capability, lol) out the kazoo. This is the best solution, but would require a longer timeframe, and therefore might not meet the needs of the current crisis.

Solution 2: Split the team up and form 4 teams, each headed by an officer (all 4 of whom are currently in Team 1). This has the benefit of spreading out the recruiting burden a bit more, as each officer would need to take responsibility for filling out his own team. This has the drawback of encouraging internal competition and poaching of players by the officers. It also suffers from the problem of putting any guild progress to a halt right now, unless you were willing to put the 3 existing healers into one of the teams in which case you put the remaining 3 officers into that jaded pool of potential /gquitters. This would require heavy investment in Solution 1 as well.

Solution 3: Keep Team 1 intact, and forget about overall morale decrease. This has the benefit of continuing guild progress as this core team learns the fights and gets the drops from the bosses we can take down. This has the drawback of strengthening the divide between Team 1 and the other guildies. This would need to be complemented with Solution 1.

Solution 4: Core Team 1, with some rotations. Benefit here is that you hopefully continue progress as there will be a core group of players who is getting geared and learning the fights, and also you get a variety of players in the door, which might quench their thirst for a while. There are a few drawbacks. Firstly, how do you pick the core group and who is rotating out? Plus, how do you choose who is rotating in? How many players? Currently, the 3 healers aren't really an option as there's nobody to rotate in, and at least one of the tanks needs to be in the core group, but probably both, because new tanks learning the fights every week will be pretty rough on the team. Solution 1 should be done in parallel.

So there you have it. Solution 1, clearly is the winner long term. When Solution 2 was presented, I wanted to barf as I just don't do recruiting. I was clear about that when I joined the guild, and I remain clear on it. My niche is in gaining expertise in my role, helping out other hunters learn the role as well, and also in delivering MQoSRDPS, CC, and any of the other lovely goodies I can bring. So I said if we go with #2, I resign my position and I'll run with one of the other officer teams.

Solution 3 is probably too much of a slap in the face to the guild, so I don't really support that one either.

Solution 4 is the right one, but the difficult part is in choosing the members who stay and who goes, and who fills in for them. As I've already said, the healers are not really options for rotation. I would like to view the tanks as non-options also, because there's just too much coordination needed as you learn the fights and learn to work together, but in the sake of fairness to the other tanks, maybe have the off tank position rotate until we have another team running.

Then you've got the 5 DPS slots to play with. This makes sense, as that's where we have the biggest pool of attuned players. I suppose the best way to make this decision is via objective performance analysis via WWS reports, along with more subjective topics like how well somebody performs CC, or other non-damage duties. Naturally, I'm a bit biased towards this as I'm typically top 1 or 2 in the damage department, plus I feel I do a solid job with my other jobs. Looking at the WWS report from our Attumen take down, there's 2 or 3 DPS'ers who, from a purely damage dealing perspective, are pretty replaceable. But from a political and human perspective, it gets much more complex. I do think that we'd need to give any under-performers a grace period within which they have the opportunity to improve their output, but at first, maybe a very cut and dry damage output measure would work for us. Then over time, as Solution 1 plays out, or as the rotations are complete and original people are subbing back in, we can review their numbers again and see if they took control of their fate and improved their DPS.

The decision we came to was basically a non-decision. For thursday's run, keep Team 1 intact. Then we'll meet before tuesday and figure out what to do. There was some political/officer resistance to a performance based rotation policy. There's a part of me that says that we need to keep the higest damage deliverers in there to aid guild progression. But I suppose for the vocal folks who output pretty low DPS, the only real way to show them that their performance is a huge part of why we couldn't handle Morose would be for the top two DPS'ers to sit out for a week, and watch as the team can't even get to Attumen, let alone drop him.

That feels a bit ruthless or manipulative, but might be necessary to show the huddled masses that simply possessing the Master's Key does not mean you are ready.

Monday, January 28, 2008

After Action Review

In the volunteer fire department, we had a thing called an AAR, which is an After Action Review, which involves reviewing your actions after they happen. Appropriately named, yes?

Whether to determine how well command and communication worked, or how various safety issues were handled, or just to see who had the biggest hose, its a valuable tool for extracting learning out of an experience.

After my Kara run on tuesday, nobody wanted to stick around and discuss, but I went and did a little mini review myself, in the form of internal reflection, and a WWS report, staring Amava in the role of Titan.

To start off, the DPS of the whole team was 2041. I personally had 650 DPS, and did 23% of total party damage.

The 650 I'm happy with. I don't really have a good baseline to compare it to as this is my first time in there for real, but I seem to remember Fio, the GM of BRK's guild, saying on some conversation thread that he's happy with solid team players who put out 5-600, and they're much further progressed than we are. So maybe that's a poor comparison off of a blurry memory of a comment taken hugely out-of-context, but either way, I'm happy and bunk on you if you want to bring me down :-) Either way, I'll keep trying to gear up with BoJ stuff and Heroic drops.

The raid DPS of 2041 for the overall instance, 2101 for the Attumen take down, and the distribution of total party damage is not something I'm happy with. I think we'll be able to handle the stables and Attumen again without too much fuss, as the trash isn't too tough once people get used to the 10-man setting and coordination, and the boss encounter isn't that bad once the team gets a hang of picking up Attumen when he shows up. As for Moroes, its just not enough. Trying to burn down the more dangerous of his guests just takes us too long. Sure there's some fancy footwork the tanks can do to hold Morose under better control, which was lacking, but I really think that the DPS is the place we need the most work.

Ok, nuff about them, back to my favorite

Going in, my bow skill was 350, and I'm not 100% sure of my 2H Axe skill, but I think it was in the 320's. My hit rating was 112.

I missed 2 auto shots, 2 steady shots, and 2 wing clips.

Ok, so the wing clips were my own damn fault, as I haven't really put any effort into improving that since I got my new Arena axe two weeks ago. No excuse, and missing wing clips like that can mean the differnce between a resisted trap being handled elegantly, or a party wiping. Get to work, buddy.

I'm still on the fence regarding my ranged hit rating. At 112, I was eating Warp Burgers for +agi on the trash, and Spicy Hot Talbuk for +hit on the bosses, putting me at 132. I can't tell from the WWS report whether my misses were on trash or bosses.

I have no basis for this decision, but going in, knowing I wasn't hit capped, I told myself that if I missed more than 3 shots, I'd do something about it. So 4 > 3, therefore I want to do something about it. Needing 10 points to get hit capped with well fed bonus, I have 4 red gem slots that currently have +6agi red gems, which can be replaced with +3hit/+3agi orange gems. Sounds like a plan. Of course, this decision was made prior to seeing BRK's write up of the balance between hit and other stats. I'm pretty happy with all my stats besides stamina and intellect for this stage of my progression, so I'm willing to take a stab at hit capping via gems and buff food for bosses.

Next thing, from the report, I was doing Auto & Steady shots at a roughly 3:2 ratio, with Arcane shots being mixed in mostly while I was on the run moving from one trap location to another. I normally like to do Auto/Steady at closer to 1:1 ratio. This was largely due to aggro issues, and some mana issues on the Attumen take down. I found myself just sitting on auto shot with no specials during lots of the trash to keep myself below the tanks on the threat meter. Going forward, I need to (A) be more proactive with my feign deaths, and (B) talk to the tanks to see if they want to discuss what happened, and if there's anything we can do together to make it better.

My last observation is that I need to get a better raid frames addon. I currently use Perl Classic unit frames. Works great for seeing my party and my focus (main tank) and my target. But the other 4 members (since focus came from other group) are missing, most notably, the off tank. I'd love to easily see his health and his target. Some research is needed.

That was more or less it from the critique angle. All in all, pretty nice job as a team in our first raid.


Turning Green into Purple

Ok, you've waited long enough. This time, not a week-long absence due to a need to diffuse negative feelings, but rather a raging case of RL hit me and kept me distracted. On to the fun...

Tuesday night, the guild ran our first scheduled, organized, all-guild Karazhan run. And it was full of win.

My story starts out about an hour before the run. I already had all my supplies stocked up from the night before, so I was doing some daily quests up in Blade's Edge Mts. This is the first combat action I'm seeing since my talent respec and pet respec. I had been using the BRK recommended levelling spec, and now replaced with, big surprise, the BRK entry level raiding spec.

Instant panic, because this is pretty different. I'm there, solo in BEM, and it is made painfully clear to me that Cringer is much less of a tank than he used to be. Fighting one of those lvl 71 boars, I see his health dropping way too fast, and my threat is through the roof. Not a whole lot of room to kite up there as the mobs are packed close together, so a bit of scrambling but we're ok. I try a few more and then realize the problem.

Without the 2 points in Bestial Discipline, his focus generates much more slowly. He was either starving for focus because I wasn't shooting (and therefore criting) to manage aggro -OR- he had focus to spare because I was shooting and criting, but I was then pulling aggro. Catch 22. I tried shutting off dash and claw, leaving only growl and bite active. This worked much better.

What a way to inspire confidence, just moments before my first raid.

20 minutes before start time, everybody but one was logged in. Invites went out, people congreated at the stone. A substitute for the absent guy was chosen, and was OK with waiting on standby, knowing he'd get the boot if the originally intended member showed up before the scheduled start time. He didn't so the sub got to run. We zoned in right on time.

As none of us is accustomed to 10-man raiding, we spent a bunch of totally disorganized time in the entry area of the zone discussing various topics like healing assignments, buff assignments (keep your salvation for the mage, pls, i'll take kings and might, ftw), party groupings, whether to focus fire or have each party take its own target (focus, ftw).

Ok, everybody's set, so we get started on the stables. Pretty straight forward. I do enjoy the added complexity that having lots of tanking, CC, and healing options gives you. We did have some communication issues among the healers regarding assignments, and we had lots of chatter of strategy tips and advice and not enough listening to the raid leader, but that improved over time.

I notice immediately that my new spec and buffs will require me to watch my aggro. I was using Flask of Relentless Assault for the first time, and on the trash, Warp Burgers, in addition to the Blessing of Kings and Might. At times, I was having aggro problems even with just white damage, and while being distracted from DPS with trapping. I'll have to talk to the tanks about that, but oh well, for our first run, I'll just pay closer attention to my threat meter, and get proactive on my FD's.

Made our way slowly through the stable to Attumen. Get Midnight down to 95% and Attumen shows up, and one or two shots some healers and we wipe. Ok, next time, off tank be ready to pick him up.

Run back in, buff up, start the fight, and then a bunch of newly spawned horses jumped on us. I had been calling out the time remaining on the respawn to the Raid Leader, as some addon of mine (perhaps BigWigs, or perhaps Cool Down Timers because it looked just like the cooldown timer graphics), but we were just too slow. Ok, wipe.

Not sure what to do about the respawns, we decided to wait for them to all respawn and then start over. While not a speed run by any stretch of the imagination, we did move more quickly though the trash. Got to the boss, and same deal as the first run, when Attumen showed up, the off tank didn't pick him up quick enough. Wipe.

Next try, lets have one of our handy hunters misdirect onto the off tank to help him out. kk. Oops, I messed up the misdirect, more specifically, didnt fire it off, so the threat all went to me and I was promptly dealt with. Watching the fight sucked. And it dragged on forever for lack of DPS, until healers went out of mana, and tanks went out of health, and raid went down. I'll take "credit" for that one.

Still time for one more boss try before respawn again. And this one was a charm. Everything went smoothly and boss went down. Our warlock and other hunter died mid-fight, so it took forever, but Amava was packing heat that night, so we were able to get it done. First fight I was ever able to use Beastial Wrath twice, and multiple mana pots. And stupid me, I forgot to apply the Superior Mana Oil I had in my bag. I didn't want to waste it on wipes, and it wasnt until 2 days later that I learned the effect lasts through death, so I forgot it for the boss fight. Oh well, dead boss, so its all good.

And, 2 hours into our first Kara run, what drops...Stalker's War Bands. And for whatever reason, the Tiki God of Randomness shined down and granted me my first PvE epic gear.

And a mage won some gear that those caster types like. I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention as I was running around my house throwing my clothes to the wind, cheering. lol, its ok if you're scared. What can I say, I was happy to replace my second-to-last greenie with an epic pair of bracers.

After some cheering, dancing, chatting, and a wave of incoherent guild chat by one member (ZOMG WE R AWSOME F-ING KARA BITCHN WE KICK HORSEMAN @SS) which I'm sure cemented the upcoming feather ruffling amongst the guildies, but I digress. We decided to go for Moroes. I'm not sure "decided" is the right word, as I don't really think you have a choice as a brand new party. Sure, you can pick a different direction to go in, but realistically, do you have a choice? Lol, not with a combined 2041 raid DPS.

Either way, spent a good 45 minutes clearing the stairs. I've heard so many horror stories about pet pathing issues on the stairs I used Cringer very reservedly, and always with my hand hovering over Ctl-2 to recall in case of emergency.

Got to Moroes. Spent quite some time discussing strategy. Wiped a couple of times and called it a night.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Friendly Visit

So in the middle of a 5 pull of undead horses, I get a friendly whisper saying that Durgan, a faithful reader on this blog, created an Alliance alt just to swing by and say hi.

And wouldn't you know it, in the heat of battle, all I can say back is "cool".

And after the pull, and the dust has settled, sad to find out he's offline.

So I'll thank him here, with his own special post.

Thanks, man. I appreciate you taking the time to say hi. I was gonna send you some Horde mail, but then I found out my alts are too low to even run to a mailbox, lol. At least not at this hour, as I need to feed the geese and then get to bed.

Good night.

Go Time

Tuesday night, at 7:45 pm server time, invites will be sent out for TagTeam of Terokkar’s K1-PM team to assemble and venture into Karazhan for our Guild first run.

Of course, due to the wonky way I write these articles and post them later, you'll probably be reading this AFTER it occurs, but oh well, such is the life of my readers. You're probably used to that by now.

Wanna guess how much I'll be able to concentrate on work today? Yeah, not so much.

Spent about an hour or so preparing on monday night.

Went out to Nagrand to do the Spiritual Soup cooking quest, and spanked a handfull of Talbuks and fried up their meat with a little Frank's Red Hot. My unbuffed hit is 112, which means it'll be 132 with the well-fed bonus. I'm still on the fence whether to dump roughly 10 gold to replace 2 pure +agi gems for some gems that also provide +hit. I think the +3hit/+3agi gems are not too expensive, and would put me at 138 which is pretty darn close to hit capped. I'll wait for that impulsive decision at the last minute.

I had a stack of Kibler's Bits in my bank, so luckily no need to head to Helfire to go bird hunting.

Dumped a nice chunk of gold down on supplies. Most costly was Flask of Relentless Assault that sold for about 40 gold each. I figure we'll be wiping a bit at first, so that's probably more economical than drinking a pair of elixirs after each corpse run. Also a few stacks of Super Mana Potions, Superior Mana Oil, Super Health Potions.

Got two stacks of Smoked Talbuk Venison to ensure Cringer stays happy.

Filled up my 20-slot quiver with Warden's Arrows. I looked into Adamantite Arrow Makers on AH. When I looked, there was nothing reasonably priced, so I'll stick with the CE arrows. My guild Engineer does not have the schematics for that yet, so he and I need to go do some grinding up in Netherstorm, but that'll have to wait for another day.

Paid for a talent respec to get 4% improved hit for my pet, improved aspect of the hawk, and a better revive pet, at the sacrifice of some pet tanking capabilities, focus generation over time, and outdoor running speed. To compensate, I also respec'd my pet to have a bit of resistance in arcane, fire, and shadow. I kept him with both Claw and Bite. I'm not sure how I'm going to observe this on the fly, but I'll try to see if they're both firing off regularly, now that I'll have a bit less focus without the points in Bestial Discipline. If there's a problem with focus starvation, I can shut one of them off.

Happily, this was all paid for out of the petty cash that Amava keeps on hand, plus the day's take from daily quests which I hadn't sent to my bank mule yet, so no dent in savings. There's still a little left in her pockets to pay for repairs, so that aspect should be all set.

Went to for the first time and tried to research the Attumen fight. Maybe my mind is simple, but that site just plain confused me. There's so many different strats and sections and I just don't get it. So I watched a couple of the videos which are such low quality that you really can't tell what's going on. And when you can tell what's going on, you have no idea what spells people are using or what special abilities the boss mobs are doing, so I actually feel dumber now than when I went there. I'll need to read WoWWiki's version of the fight, as I find them to be pretty simple in their explanations.

Went over to BRK and watched his vid about Moroes, just in case we make it that far. Pretty consistent with how my first experience with Moroes went, with a little less pet tanking in my version.

I guess that's all I can do for prep, and now its time for the team to execute.

Hey, whaddya know, I'm a seal

This whole druid thing is pretty fun, and just keeps getting better. To get the aquatic form, you first need to turn level 17, and then a quest giver in Auberdine starts you off on a little quest chain that ends up with you running all over the place, swimming to collect a few items, and then you get your new shape shifting capability.

This is really the way to do it. I like the quest chain so much more than just visiting a trainer and paying a few bucks to get a new skill.

For Hunters, we had the level 10 pet training quests. And I think that's it. If I remember correctly, there was another Hunter quest in the 50's that took you all over Azshara and then into the Sunken Temple. But that wasn't for any new capabilities, it was just for some nice piece of gear.

I hope the new expansion has more stuff like this for different classes, because it really makes you feel like you earned the new skill, and not just "ding level, pay trainer".

Some of the very unique Hunter capabilities like Freezing Trap and Misdirection really could benefit from a nice little chain of quests that introduce you to the skill, and maybe also try to teach you the usefullness of the skill at the same time.

Of course, in terms of return on investment for Blizzard, class-specific quests are money they spend on developing content only limited audience will ever experience, so I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Farming Leathers and Swimming Around

Back to Moodyswinger, my Druid alt who ended the weekend at level 17.

Still fun as hell to play her. Just something cool about taking on 3 or 4 equal level (or 1 below) mobs and popping back and forth between Bear and Elf form to slap some heals on myself, and to slap some Moonfire on the baddies, then back to Bear to tank the hits and debuff their attack power. Then skin the buhjeezus out of them.

I'm not sure if its more nostalgia, or if I really do like the area, but questing in Darkshore is nice. I like it way better than some of the other 10-20 zones like Westfall or Loch Modan. Could be that its just familiar because Amava spent much of her early days there.

When I dinged 17, I got invited to a party in Moonglade. When I get there, the guy handing out the little cocktail weenies also told me about this fancy new shape shift I'll get....aquatic form.

Yeah, baby!!!! Started up the quest chain which has you running and swimming all over the place. Got to take the familiar trek from Auberdine to Stormwind City. Although its a semi boring run, I still get a big kick out of making the trip and thinking about how mystical it felt the first time I did it. Due to a combination of hangover, fatigue, and my late showing of the Giants game coming to a wonderful end, I had to go to bed before I finished the chain and got the aquatic form, so that'll have to wait until monday night.

Then there's the Leatherworking. Which should probably be called "Forget about questing and just grind your way through levels in search of leather". I kill and skin. EVERYTHING. Every bunny, deer, diseased deer, mob, you name it. If its got skin, I blast it with moonfire and then shapeshift and claw its face off. Hell, even murlocs are dropping scales that I need for gear.

I'm trying to keep LW up to date enough to be able to craft all the trainer-available items that my level allows. And quite frankly, I can't do it. Farming enough leathers to make up-to-date items generates too much XP and I level up before the gear is made. I suppose I won't complain, as XP is nice to have, but I'm in no rush with this guy because she's oodles of fun to play. Ok, so I'm in a teeny tiny rush to get to 20 so I can get the cat form and run fast, but not super urgent.

With my LW at around 100, I'm thinking that this is only the beginning. I just got access to Medium Leather, which now means you have to farm stack and stacks of Light Leather to make a single item. I haven't found any mobs that drop Medium Leather directly, so all my Mediums are crafted from 4 Lights. I've read horror stories of people farming hundreds and hundreds of leathers just to get a single skill point in the upper 300's so we'll see how long this remains fun. For the time being, I'm diggin' it.

And if you're a bunny in Moonglade, you might want to go hibernate for a while because its wabbit season.

Alternate Rig

Another new addition to the family. Not an alt this time, but rather, a new computer. A laptop this time, specifically designed to allow me to fuel my addiction on a mobile basis. What can I say, I like piles and piles of computers.

Started off with the new computer at my house, and tried to get my addons and settings copied over from my main PC.

Basically there's 3 folders that you have to copy when running on Windows Vista:

1) Program Files \ World of Warcraft \ WTF

2) Program Files \ World of Warcraft \ Interface \ Addons

3) \ AppData \ Local \ VirtualStore \ Program Files \ World of Warcraft \ WFT

That last one is needed to copy over your saved variables (such as Auctioneer scan data), and I think is specific to Windows Vista.

Worked like a beauty, although the network data transfer took forever, which is really strange. So a magic flash drive to the rescue, still took too long, but whatever.

Perfectly. Now to automate/schedule a synchronization task that'll copy the data to some FTP folder on a server on the Internet so these puppies will stay in sync as I run an auc scan on one machine, or install a new addon.

Brought the system over to my GF's house. Set up a wireless network on the DSL connection, and in the time it took me to down two pints of sammy's winter ale, I was up and running. Good signal strength in my preferred location, which is always a plus.

Logged on and got into a guild Botanica run. Slightly different keyboard layout than I'm normally used to. Most noticable was the function keys are immediately adjacent to the number keys, and my fingers are used to feeling for the small gap between the rows of keys. Worked ok but meant I had to look down at my hands which is something I am not in the habit of doing.

Also, another tiny thing, but its strange how a tiny change to your playing environment can feel huge. Normally when I play on my PC, I'm at a custom built workbench, which is extra tall so I sit on a bar stool, or just stand up. Plus I have my keyboard slid over to the left a little bit so that I can stay physically centered on the monitor, but my mouse is off to the right, and my keyboard is where my hand will naturally sit, further over to the left. Playing on my new setup, I'm sitting down at a normal height table, and the keyboard is built into the laptop and so is not slid over to the left at all. I found myself slowly gravitating further and further off center of the monitor as my hand pulled the rig to where I wanted the keyboard.

In the end, awesome to have a second option for playing as I do spend a lot of time outside of my normal WoW lair to spend time at the GF's house or to travel for family and work reasons.

The moment I've all been waiting for

Title was going to be "The moment you've all been waiting for", but then I thought about it, and the only part of this that you guys might have been waiting for is hopefully an end to my whining. But I, on the other hand, have been waiting for this moment for quite some time.

Long story short, the guild has formed Kara Team PM-1 and is scheduled to start this thursday, with a possible acceleration to tuesday if we can finish the attunement for one of the players on monday night.


Over the later half of last week, we had some random snippets of conversation between small subsets of the officer corps regarding the topic. Finally got three out of the four of us on at the same time and not in an instance on sunday evening. Talked it over, and came up with a proposed team of 10. An hour later, the fourth assistant supervisor logs in and we get back on the officer voice channel and go through things. Last guy had a decent reason why a different player should go in place of one of our choices, and it made sense so we adjusted.


Warrior (MT)
Druid (OT)

Paladin (heal MT)
Paladin (heal OT)
Priest (heal raid)

Warlock (not sure what spec)
Mage (not sure what spec)
Mage (fire)
Hunter (MM)
Hunter (me, BM)

My only things I'd change if I could would be to replace one pally with another priest, since at first when we all are total rookies in there, I think the additional shackle would be a giant benefit, but I think we'll make due as there's a nice collection of skills, gear, and most importantly, good attitudes and fun people. I'd also like somebody who can help the healers with their mana like a Shammy or Shadow Priest, but so be it.

Now its time to scramble and get ready.

X) Discuss with RL folk who I like to spend time with on tuesdays and thursdays and ensure we adjust things so we still get to have fun, so as to not make raiding feel like a pain in social the arse. I need to be logged in by 8:30 those nights (raid starts at 9:00) and will be pretty oblivious to my surroundings (new head phones, ftw).

X) Ensure proper consumables are on hand. I've got a decent supply of almost everything I need already, but perhaps a few more mana pots and some flasks that'll last through death, as I suspect we'll be the kings of the wipe. Some buzzard meat needs to be farmed, and a few more talbuks will offer themselves up to helping me aim my bow at lvl 73 bosses a little better.

X) Review my Talent points. I'm still on the BRK recommended levelling build. Luckily, he put a posting up on monday to remind me to make some changes as I enter Kara to provide more DPS and at the sacrifice of some pet tanking capability.

X) Review my Pet Talent points. I honestly barely ever alter my pet's talents. I think Cringer's skills are a random assortment of points, sort of thrown towards the types of resistances you'd need in Shadow Labs, as I think I was running in SL when he dinged the last two loyalty levels after I trained him months ago. I'll want a spec more tuned to the early parts of Kara.

X) Review boss fights. I've never seen Attumen, only beat Moroes once, and fought and died on Maiden once as well. I need to read up on Attumen and Moroes specifically, as I'll be pleased as h3ll if we get to those two on our first raid week. Some of the other guys have also done the first sections a couple of times.

X) Install Deadly Boss Mods or CT Raid Assist to allow for easier raid communication. I already have BigWigs installed to help me with boss fights (so far, hugely helpful on Maiden, and also in my numerous Black Morass runs).

X) Figure out when the heck I'm going to watch American Idol. They run on tuesay and wednesday. So tuesday's show wont be viewed on tuesday, but wednesday is a problem, since that's when they reveal the results. If you don't watch it on wednesday, you have to put yourself in a cone of silence and avoid any contact with the outside world, lest the outcome get spoiled. While they're doing the 2 hour specials, trying to cram 4 hours of Idol into wednesday nights will probably drive me insane. or more insane. insaner.

So there you have it. The beginning of the end has begun.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hmmmmm. Is that all?

In my efforts to keep myself focused and my toon family moving in a direction that I enjoy, or need, I ended up writing a giant essay on tons and tons of topics. Fun exercise for me, boring exercise for the readers. Here's the condensed executive summary, which if I had to estimate, is compressed down to 1% of the original size.


1) Daily, do your chores. Complete at least 5 daily quests, herbing and mining along the way. Save the gold on a new banker toon.

2) Figure out a deadline by which you need your guild to be running scheduled kara runs. Daily, talk to key guildies, to ensure that anything under your control is being done to hit that deadline.

3) Daily, take a look at crafting profs, and choose a recipe to buy. Have shopper navigate to the proper vendor. Shoot for completing this 4 times weekly, preferrably not in one single marathon session of running around.

4) Weekly, complete your 10 arena matches. Welfare, baby.

5) Once chores are done, and if nobody from arena team is around or matches are done for the week, switch over to Moody and have fun.

6) Grind some leathers with Moody to get her Leatherworking caught up to her level as you're currently missing out on some gear that is equippable right now.

And the most fun of all...the new computer arrived, and I have WoW installed on it. So top priority is set up network at GF's house, and see if I can get my addons and Auctioneer data copied over to the new guy by just copying two folders.

Strange Policy

Sounds like Kestrel and I work for joints that use the same proxy vendor, because his description in a recent comment exactly fits what I'm seeing. Some days all of blogspot is blocked. Sometimes just the login is blocked, but reading is acceptable, and still on other days, only some blogspot sites are blocked. Same appears to be true for wordpress stuff.

Now the kicker....friday morning BRK posts his 1,000,000 challenge. Not that I have any intention of spamming away at the refresh key all day (nope, no intention at all), but the stupid blocked message comes up for

Oh well. At least the feed still comes into google reader, so just a matter of finding a feed for the comments and I'll be semi-all-set.

And find a low cost hosting solution that has a Tomcat server I can run java on.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Drama by Design

You ever have one of those moments where you realize that very little of the in-game mechanics, and the dramatic results of those mechanics, happen by accident? Despite all the stuff you hear about people hating on Blizz, or saying the designers are dumb, they really do know what they're doing. Success on the scale they've achieved does not happen by accident.

I had just such a moment last night, when a situation reminded me that, although I would like something in the game to be different, I think they've specifically engineered a situation that's bound to generate drama.

Lets face it, the majority of humanity is addicted in one way or the other to drama. Sure, there's a tiny few who are internally peaceful and have found spiritual creaminess. But the rest of us are trainwrecks that have already happened or are at least waiting to happen, and although we say we want less drama, we're constantly drawn back to it like a magnet.

Last night, I was a lvl 10 Druid, questing in Teldrassil. On my way to Darnassus to start the Bear Form quests, I saw a guy on general channel asking for help with a quest in a cave that I also need. I remember this quest from Amava's younger days, and its a pain with tons of mobs packed together and stupid fast respawn rate.

Sure, lets roll. And pick up another guy at the entrance to the cave. 3 Druids, lol.

With the 3 of us, we can just rock and roll through the cave, with not much need for downtime. This quest unfortunately requires 4 items scattered through out the cave, plus you get a 2-step quest that starts inside the cave. So lots of random running around, lost the whole time.

I notice that there's lots of Malachite and other similar items dropping. I'm rolling greed on everything. I was trying to push the speed of the group a bit, so I wasn't paying attention. A little while later, I do notice out of the corner of my eye that one guy is winning all the drops. So I look and see he's rolling need.

Ok, I could care less about the couple silvers that a Malachite would net. Moody is carrying a Platinum Visa card, co-signed by her big sister, so no big deal.

I told the guy the basics of need/greed/pass rolling. No response. 2 need rolls later, I told him he's stealing the loot from us by consistently rolling need. He had a great attitude, and said he didn't know, which I suspected was the case. He tried giving me the stuff, I passed, and told him that he should keep that in mind going forward, and if he helps spread the word for standard usage of PUG need/greed rolling, that'll be payment enough.

He was cool, the other two of us were cool, we moved on. No other rollies dropped, so I'm not sure if he got the point or not, but all was cool.

Drama dodged. But, I could clearly see the potential for drama if anybody in the party was a hot head. Amava ran into just such a hot head situation when she was a little girl and never saw a need/greed dialogue box before.

My initial thought was "Blizz should include something very early on, such as a mandatory quest that illustrates Need/Greed principle in a party of you and 2 other NPC's or something, so you see the roll acted out, rather than in text quest or some other mechanism." I figured something like that would help eliminate the drama that comes, not from a guy being a loot ninja, but just uninformed as to wtf need/greed even means.

I remember starting out on Amava, I just thought the two buttons were to allow you to seed the random number generator, and so you just pick which ever one you were in the mood for, and in the end, it was all random. A party member took offense, and said in rather unpleasant language what he thought of my rolling technique. I learned through some drama, as the rest of the party explained to me why he dropped out of the party in a huff. Granted, training will not protect you from actual ninjas, but it will reduce drama that stems from ignorance rather than malice.

Then I got to thinking. Blizz has probably had hundreds of design discussions, brainstorming sessions, focus groups, and behavioral studies on this exact subject of what the default group loot distribution policy should be, and how to introduce players to that policy/mechanism.

I'm willing to bet you a copper that they specifically leave it obscure enough to ensure that there'll be suitable drama to feed our addiction and keep us logging back in. And they're banking on the general human nature to have at least one hot-head in any random grouping of people.

And then my mind started wandering to the concept of what Organizational Behavior specialists or Group Psychology experts they have on staff, and how interesting it woud be to sit in on some of those discussions on how to provide in-game experiences that can be excellent if used by a group of co-operative, openly communicating individuals; but put in the hands of your average group of strangers, or poor communicators, and you have dynamite in your hands. Diabolical, I tell you. That's a job I'd love :-) (as long as they don't block me from my WoW sites during the day).

Now time for my own brainstorming session on what other things might be specifically engineered to allow human drama to fully blossom, rather than providing in-game tools that help reduce it. Perhaps more to come on this topic.

Kill the Wabbit

Altitis, a cure for the common kara blues.

I'm playing my druid lately. She's a shop-aholic who's going to scout out all the limited quantity vendor recipes for the rest of the alt family. I originally wanted to get her to lvl 10 just to be a bit more survivable for the trip to Iron Forge, and to get the talent point button to show up so I could view the various talent trees while running. Started having fun, and didn't stop till lvl 13.

Somewhere along the way, I've renewed my joys of playing. I've partially let go of trying to run Kara. If its gonna happen, it'll happen. If not, I found my fun stuff again...playing Moody is so much less of a chore than Amava's daily quest grind to make sure she has enough dough to pay the repairs from the heroic wipefests she gets into from time to time.

A little while back, I made mention of enjoying levelling a gathering profession. Moody is a skinner/leatherworker.

Fun all around, at least at this level. Its still novel enough that trying to grind out leathers so I can craft the gear is lots of fun. And the amount of leathers needed for a piece of equipment is low enough that the grind goes really quick. Might become a pain as I progress and crafting takes more and more mats, but oh well, I'll deal with that in turn.

I hit lvl 10 and got my Bear Form. Love it. Jumping Bear, Dancing Bear, Swimming Bear. Hell, even Skinning Bear looks cool.

Then you get into the popping back and forth from one form to the other to pop a heal, then back into Bear to lay some smack down.

My favorite part was shortly after I got my bear form, I wanted a bunch of leather to get my LW caught up and craft a few new pieces I could equip. Needed leathers. Went on a rabbit hunt in Teldrassil.

Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm hunting wabbits.

And all I could think of was the movie Swingers as I was this big bear with these big sharp claws and teeth. I wasn't playing with the bunny, or just batting it around.

I killed the wabbit. With my Speaw and Magic Hewmet!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You dirty rat!!!!!!

The bastards!!!!!!!!!






















Oye. And it applies to *

Time to update my resume.

Now, the question is, how long until gets flagged as a gaming site by the proxy software vendor?

I Can Go All Night Like a Lumberjack

Did Amava quit dropping bombs for the Sky Guard and pick up a job with Venture Co. Lumber? Nah.

With tuesday's reset, I got my weekly arena points and broke past 1000. Fly off to Area 52, scout around a bit to find the Arena Vendor, and the Season 3 axe is now soulbound to Amava.

As always, my social network of enchanters is not quite as well rounded as I'd like, so it took me about 45 minutes of pinging people to locate someone with the +35 agi 2H weapon enchant, but alas, she be mine.

With this upgrade, my AP and hit drop a bit, but my stamina and crit jump substantially. There's also some "ignore armor" which I'm uncertain on how to compare that to other stats, but I'm assuming it can't hurt since it says "ignore" and not "increase" armor. And the resilliance will help me in Arena, but I doubt it'll be enough to overcome my total lack of skill or true desire to be good in there. I'll keep putzing along, collecting my bit more than 250 points per week.

This puts my crit at a little over 22%, which I think means I might need to reallocate some talent points because Go For the Throat will now supposedly be providing enough focus for Cringer to keep swinging away. I need to find a good boss fight that's pretty standard tank 'n spank to run a baseline, and then respec and try again. Dr. Boom won't be suitable for this, as my intent is to test out my total damage with my pet, which boomie doesn't help you with.

With the stamina boost, I'm now at about 7800 HP, which is much nicer, and one step closer to the 8K that I'd like for starting Kara.

Attack power, while dropping a tad, is still over 1500, so I'm a happy camper.

Next gear goal for me is to reach the hit cap. I'm at 116 now. Cooked up a pile of Spicy Hot Talbuk, that'll buff me to 136. So me thinks I'll re-gem a few spots where I have combination +hit/+agi gems, and replace them with pure +hit gems, which will then hit cap me - OR - read Kaliban's loot list for where the other pieces of Desolation gear live, and farm those until I get a second piece of that set to go with the helm I have sitting in the bank. If I get that +35 hit set bonus, I can the re-gem back to pretty much entirely +agi gems in those slots. And to think, I can remember weeks ago that a piece of Desolation dropped, and I passed, thinking it was Shammy gear. Go figure. I think I won the shard though, so that got recycled into +35 agi on my new axe :-)

It is a bit anticlimactic, as I do feel it is a bit like a handout. To get this gear upgrade, I really only endured a bit of emotional pain at getting spanked in Arena, and a teeny tiny bit of personal discipline in remembering to get my 2 friends together for about 2 hours before each tuesday's deadline.

Welfare or not, she looks awesome as I spam away at Wing Clip to level up my 2H Axe skill.

Edit: title changed from "I'm on Welfare" at the last second, preferring a Hot Shots Part Deux reference instead.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ummm BoP

So, one day into my "personal shopper" alt concept, and boo boo number one happens.

After a guild meeting that left with tons of people squirming with cries of "help me, help me", I decided to go play an alt. Its reached quite a new level of intensity, and following the meeting it was extra funny, as nearly the entire meeting was dedicated to informing people on the correct way to ask for help, namely be prepared, be specific, be understanding if people are not available to help at a moment's notice. Then again, I suppose the type of person who blindly asks to be handheld through quest chains, lower level dungeons, or raid attunement processes is also the type who doesn't listen to the guild master during a meeting. But I digress.

I slip on over to my Enchanter alt. Something I noticed over the past few days is that he's somewhat limited on enchants that a low level priest might like. So why not take a look at what enchants are available from vendors. I try to use an "algorithm" of choosing the lowest level thingie that I'm missing, in any of WoW's general pursuits, and go after that thingie first. There's so many decisions and compromises to make in this game, that I often fall back on the "lowest level thingie first" method as my default choice when there's no compelling reason to choose something else. I believe you'd call it "breadth first" if you were using more exact language, but if you've ever read my posts, you know that's not my bag, baby.

Examining the output from my profession what-formula-is-missing addon (called Ackis Recipe List, for those who are wondering), I see an enchanting formula available in limited quantity from a vendor in Darnassus. Perfect, because my personal shopper is still parked in Auberdine after picking up a shirt pattern the day before.

Quick hop to Dar, and a few minutes of snooping around looking for the vendor. Find him, and ding, there's the formula.

But wait? What's this? If you scroll all the way to the last page, he's got another one listed. This one is a pretty nice looking +7 shield stamina, which would actually be nice for my Paladin tank, who also happens to be the enchanter. I have some addon or other that shows you which alts any given formula/pattern/recipe would be useful for. So I'm expecting it to tell me that my enchanter could use this, as its required skill level is below his. But all it says is "unuseful". I thought about it for a sec, but assumed it must be buggy, as it sometimes is.

I bought both formulas, and headed over to the mailbox. Doh. Can't email the one formula, as its soulbound. Damn bind on pickup formulas. There's a gold thrown down the toilet. Oh well, lesson learned.

Here's the funny part. Now driven by spite, I switch over to my enchanter, and run his butt from Iron Forge over to Darnassus. A few hours later, I check the vendor, and ding, the recipe is listed again.

But what's this? The tooltip STILL says its unuseful, when in fact it should be useful to this very toon.

This time it must be a bug, and the price appears to be reputation based, because its substantially lower than the price my other alt was charged.

Buy it, right click to learn it, and ding, I've now got a new stamina enchant for my shield.

And the nice part is that Moody the lvl 6 Druid, my alt family's personal shopper, got to shop near Teldrassil where she spent some time questing. When do I get fun forms to morph into? I want, I want.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nepotism at its Finest

As my little family of toons grows, and as I deal with the troughs of the grief that the beginning of the end game is causing me, I've begun to look at building out my skills to keep my toon family as independent as it can be. I hire my own toons for goods and services with a great sense of pride and family values.

I'm loving wearing gear that I craft myself. Its definitely got a fun feel to it. Especially when well funded by an older sister, but that's neither here nor there.

In my present alt-aholic state, I've got my leatherworking rogue who makes her own clothes and my tailor priest knitting his own stuff. Techinally I also have a blacksmith warrior, but he really hasn't seen enough action to count. At each level my priest dings, I check the tailoring tab to see what new pieces are available to equip.

Ding 24 and there's a new pair of shadow damage gloves available to craft. Sweet, because he's got enough into the shadow tree to get mind flay. One of the required ingredients is a Shadow Protection Potion. Check AH, and no potion available. Ok, ok, he's also an alchemist, so check AH for the recipe. Nope. Ok, check on thottbot and see that the recipe for the potion is limited available from a vendor in Ashenvale.

So he heads over that way, finds the vendor, and nothing. Not available. Quest quest quest in the immediate vicinity and keep checking the vendor any chance you get. Finally, several hours later, ding, the recipe is mine.

Learn the recipe, and check the necessary ingredients. Grave moss. Ok, check AH, nothing. Well, time to call in your big sister. Luckily, Amava didn't drop herbalism, and also happens to remember where there's some moss. Switch toons, fly to shatt, portal to stormwind, fly to sentinel hill and ride a swift saber over to a graveyard in duskwood. Easy peasy, got my moss. Hearth to shatt, and mailed over the moss.

Switch to my Paladin and buy the cloth needed. Mail that over to the priest.

Switch back to Priest and make the potions, and then weave the gloves.

That right there is why I want to be self-sufficient. If I didn't have the herbalist, I'd have to either wait for it to be available on AH or be nice to some other herbalist and ask them to help, something I'm not interested in doing when already battling with an antisocial retreat.

Then I got to thinking about that formula sold on a limited basis by that vendor. Hmmm, I wonder how many other recipes I'm missing across all my cooks, enchanter, engineer, tailor, alchemist, leatherworker, blacksmith, and jewelcrafter?

Google search comes up with an addon that'll show you a listing of all recipes for a profession that you do not currently have, along with the minimum skill level you need to learn it.


That's what spawned the idea for my new Druid. Her job is to shop. She's going to hop from vendor to vendor, waiting in line for those rare recipes. Well, she'll be waiting at the inn nearest to the current vendor she's stalking, but first thing I do when logging into WoW will be to hop on her and check the vendor for the next recipe. Sunday night I created her with the intention of clearing through to level 5 so she can learn some professions, and then getting over to Auberdine, where the lowest level tailoring pattern that I don't have yet can be bought on a limited basis. Of course, when I get there, the pattern is right there sitting on the shelf for me to buy, thus making the "personal shopper" concept a bit silly. But monday night she's going to find the next vendor on her list and go camp that guy out until he coughs up the goods, and so on. And she'll get some levelling action in as she needs to head to more and more dangerous turf to pick stuff up.

As a gift for the new pattern, my tailor made Moody 4 Mageweave Bags. Gotta keep those jobs in the family. Nepotism at its finest.

Its a Girl

Amava, my first toon, spent her young days as any good Night Elf would in Teldrassil, and then moved along to Darkshore and Ashenvale. Back in those days, I think it took me two weeks to get to level 10, with most of my time spent running around that giant tree, totally lost, and still trying to come to grips with the fact that any of the other characters that look just like me are actual other people and not just NPC's, as WoW was my first MMO.

This weekend, I spent a bunch of time on alts. Amava was feeling too much pressure from new folks in the guild who she doesn't even know at all whispering or openly gchatting "pls help me. who wants to help me? nobody will help me" stuff, when all she wants is for the guild to stop recruiting below 70, levelling people up, keying people up and gearing people up, until there's some actual plan for progression among the growing growing pile of people that're already levelled, keyed, and sort of geared. Or at least when you ask for help, (A) make sure I'm not in a dungeon at the moment, and (B) tell me what you need help with. If its a reasonable request, I'll be reasonable in response. If you're being rediculous and want me to run you through the entire world and you don't know where any of the quest objectives are or even what quests you're on, then smell you later.

Of course, now my lvl 35 Paladin banker is also feeling the pressure too. I did a bunch of grouping up while levelling him to 35 over the past couple weeks, and now I get 5 or 6 people ask him to do stuff anytime I log in to check AH or fetch stuff from my vault. My Punky Brewster rogue is going to become my banker since she's got no friends yet. Just need a friend to create an alt who I can surrender my 1-man guild to, so he can invite Punky in and give the guild back over to her.

Lol, my tragic catch 22. Either can't find any action and its depressing, or there's just too much demand and its a burden. No happy medium at this point.

First alt up to bat was my priest who started the weekend at 22 and ended at 27. Gotta love the new levelling speed. Combination of questing and a run through Black Fathom Deeps. BFD was just plain fun. That was my first dungeon I ever ran, and had a blast healing a total PUG. Kind of a messy group, but we were near the high end of the level bracket, and I think that low level dungeons are a bit easier since recent patches, and I had a great time playing healer. Green Bar Tunnel Vision, FTW!!!!!

Next up was my brand new addition to the family. Thoroughly experiencing alt-itis, I decided to add a Druid to the family. I named her Moodyswinger to pay hommage to my current mental state. What a total riot it was to run around the Night Elf intro area. Major nostalgia from Amava's younger days. I was chuckling at the vivid memories of the various basic entry-level quests, and what a tough time I had with them my first time through. I think I spent a week or more in that entry level area, which I then cleared through in about an hour and a half sunday night.

I can't wait to get different Druid forms. I re-watched the intro cinematic movie to WoW. Also the Burning Crusade intro, but I like the original way better. Firstly, makes me wish I had my bear Teddy out of the stables, and secondly, makes me wish I picked Dwarf at first. Then you see the druid chick running through the forest and morphing into a cat right as she leaps. Good stuff.

Got Fel Armaments?

On saturday morning, (A) cleaned out my gold account and (B) dinged exalted with Aldor.

Not sure what possessed me, other than being overall jaded with the pre-kara blues (no, not a type of gear), but I looked up my rep with Aldor, dividided by 350, and bought a giant pile of Fel Armaments, thus bringing my gold stock to its lowest since maybe level 30. Until the last few purchases though, prices were rock bottom, so I'm not too unhappy with the impulsive decision.

Funny thing was, my new computer arrived on friday, so much of the friday night and saturday morning and afternoon was spent downloading WoW, TBC, and patch 2.3. While it was downloading, the lag on my normal computer was unbearable. As a result, it took me over a half hour talking to the Aldor lady, turning in the Fel Armaments.

So now Amava's Beast Lord Mantle's got a nice shiny inscription granting +30 attack power and +10 crit. Not too shabby.

This'll only take 4 seconds

Got to try out my new 2-piece Beast Lord gear set out in some dungeon runs.

Four seconds off of the trap cooldown.

Just silly, I tell you.

Ran Shattered Halls, Mechanar, and Heroic Slave Pens. To sum it up, in Shattered Halls my favorite comment was, "good lord, you're like a machine gun with those traps". Nuff said.

I was happily anticipating the cooldown reduction, but I never realized it would make quite that much difference. In Shattered Halls, you deal with tons of mobs simultaneously and with a Warrior tank, every bit of CC is helpful. I just had no idea that the 4 seconds would make quite that much difference. It was wonderous. No matter how chaotic a pull became, I always felt I had a new trap ready whenever one was needed.

The next day, same group, only swap out a Warlock for another Hunter.

Party Leader gives out the assignments, and says amava=blue square, otherguy=star.

First pull, blue square goes up, no star applied. Mob runs to otherguy.

Second pull, same deal.

Sensing what's going on, just for fun, I start breaking his trap and trap over by me, and chain trap from there.

A few pulls later, and otherguy says "who's breaking traps?"

I say "who's pulling blue square?"

Party Leader says "amava=bluesquare".

Otherguy says "but you don't have any points in survival".

I say "lol".

Granted, I'm fine with him on primary trap duty. With the right points in Survival, you can definitely be better off than I am. But don't ignore the party leader. He gives an assignment, either communicate your alternate strategy to the party along with your reason for preferring that plan, or follow instructions.

Ended up being a pretty cool run from that point forward. Standard heroic wipe-fest that pre-kara beauties like me are growing to loathe love.

Monday, January 14, 2008

If I Could Start Over, I Would...

In a recent blog entry on One Among Many, that question was asked to the community. Seeing the popularity of answering the question on a growing list of blogs, I figure I'll chime in...

Honestly, I think I like how it went for me. I love playing a Hunter, as I chose the class because you get to have a pet, and I love my RL pet. You've heard enough about the beauty of dual gathering while levelling, and its only now at the end game that I'm debating a switch to crafting.

One thing I often think would have been nice is to have started out choosing a tank or healer first, for two reasons. First, those classes are much more in demand. Its pretty rare that you hear someone say "if we only had another hunter". Second, the levelling speed. Amava just spoiled me by levelling to 70 with almost no effort. Granted, at the time, I had no idea what tank, heal, or DPS meant, so its tough to look back, but I do wish my first toon was a class that levelled more slowly. And, ok, so I did know what "heal" meant when I started out, because that's pretty intuitive, but you get the drift.

The other thing I thing that would have greatly enriched my time in the game would be to have someone I know IRL to play the game with. Especially when starting out at first, that would be really cool to have a duo to run with. Its fun to learn with somebody else, and also, even as overpowered we are as Hunters, with a duo, there's almost no content outside of dungeons that's inaccessible while levelling. A Hunter and a Healer working together are a levelling powerhouse.

Oh yeah, and I'd play Horde. Their looks and culture vary way more across the races, and are just way more appealing to me than much of the Alliance.

Or a Dwarf.

The Golden Plateau

The usual profession question is back in my mind. To keep the dual gathering, or to try playing with some other crafting profs. The option in the lead at this point is dropping mining and picking up alchemy. My guild doesn't have any high level alchemists, and the AH seems to have limited availability of the potions, flasks, and elixirs that I want. What good is having all the gold from dual gathering if there's nothing to buy? Hell, I couldn't even find any Superior Mana Oil, so I had to resort to buying the formula and donating it to a guild enchanter, only to discover that there was no Netherbloom available on AH at the time, so I couldn't even reap the benefits until I farmed the herbs myself!!!!

I actually think that the real reason I'm debating the switch is due to my spending. Ever since getting my epic flight, I've loosened the purse strings a bit. Prior to that, I barely spent money on anything. Occasional greenie equipment purchases on AH, every 10 levels or so. That's probably the biggest expense I ever had and it really didn't amount to a whole lot over the grind from 1-70. I think I wore the epic bracers I got from WSG at 39 until well into my 50's.

Then I hit 70, grind out the last little bit to buy the fast birdie, and then the flood gates opened. Biggest expense was enchants. Before I got the 300 flight skill, I don't think I ever enchanted anything, besides some 2H sword I had Beastslayer put on in my 30's because it looked cool :-) Easily dumped near to a thousand gold into a full set of enchants/glyphs/inscriptions/gems (including the price of buying rep items like Coilfang Armaments to gain access to that stuff) inside of a week. Add to that repeat enchants on a few items that got replaced immediately after the enchant.

Then a case of the altitis and profession-ism hit me, shelling out the dough to buy mats to level up enchanting, engineering, tailoring, and alchemy on alts. Granted, none of them have gone to too high level, but still, compared to my previous spending habits, this is a spending spree. Plus, to help my alts level as fast as possible, I've been buying them gear every 2 or 3 levels, or at least as frequently as I can remember to look. Plus enchanting their stuff, albeit with low level enchants, and only on BoE stuff that can be mailed to my enchanter prior to equipping.

Then add to that, I spent a king's ransom on 3 Primal Mooncloth Bags to satisfy Amava's purse fetish.

And a growing pile of gold going towards Fel Armaments to get me to Exalted with Aldor. Luckily there's 2 folks on my server who like to sell theirs for 50% of the market rate, which wowhead confirms it a legit market and not hyper-inflated, so I'm their favorite customer. Keep 'em coming.

The end result of all this is that the wonderful and exciting world of watching my gold supply climb climb climb has been replaced by watching my gold level more or less stay stagnant over the course of a week (with nice dips and dives if you look at a short enough time horizon) while various other things like rep bars, profession skill levels and recipe lists all increase. Bah.

The good news on that front is that I'm running out of places to spend. Strange, but in a distorted way, its true.

Enchanter alt hit 275, which was all I needed. Unless the DE mats enable him to grow beyond 275, he'll stay there or grow to 300 without any cost. He's at 35, with no intention to play him (other than maybe to lvl to 40 and give myself another place to dump some money on his mount) in the near future. He can still dump money into engineering from 225 to 300.

My alchemist/tailor is maxed at 225 on both profs, and he just dinged 23 friday morning, so there's going to be a little while before he can spend any more on his professions, other than the occasional unlearned recipe that comes up on the AH. If Amava took up Alchemy, this guy would drop it and pick up Jewel Crafting. And my Blacksmith/JC would drop JC for mining, but he's too low level to even consider. But he looks bad @$$, so I want to bring him out.

Punky Brewster, the Gnome Rogue, is developing her skinning and leatherworking organically, through grinding, skinning, and crafting, and only purchasing random assorted parts like belt buckles as needed. She's also going to stay in the stables until my alchemist hits 35.

So, where's all this going?????

To help revive my love for dual-gathering, I'm going to stop the spending for a week or two. Or maybe, rather than a time-based thing, maybe I'll set a savings goal and remain stingy until then.

The only forseable expense, besides the random pet food, arrows, and mana pots, will be mats and tip for a +35 agi enchant on the S3 Arena Axe that I should be eligible to purchase on tuesday.

Yeah, maybe that's it. I'll go buy the mats for the +35, and then cut myself off and send the money to an alt that doesn't even have any professions and not stop until that guy's got enough dough for his own epic flyer that's 69 levels away.

Hmmm? I wonder? Or maybe I'll just take up Alchemy :-)

Indecision, FTW!!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Guild Meetin'

We had a guild meeting on wednesday. I don't know what it is, perhaps just being new to larger scale group events, but there's something cool about seeing all the toons show up in the same place. Sure we could just log into the same voice chat channel, but nearly everyone showed up in the digital flesh, and its really fun to see.

First notice was that we're capping recruitment at 100 members. We're at 84 right now, open to lvl 50 and up. Personally, I think that even 100 is a bit high to start off, but I'm encouraged by any down-to-earth limit. Lets prove we can function with one or two teams in 10-man content, and then discuss growth plans from there.

Next order of business, guild ranks. For formal guild leadership, we've got a few different ranks. Supervisor is our name for Guild Master. Assistant Supervisor is what we call Officer. And then Class Captain is what we call our Class Captains, duh. Supervisor oversees the guild and is the final escalation point for any conflicts. There's 1 Supervisor. Assistant Supervisors are for first level conflict resolution, and primarily concerned with Raid Team composition. There's 4 Assistant Supervisors. Class Captains are for discussing the talent builds, equipment, enchants, and abilities of each class. There's 1 of these per class. Over time, we will also name an Arena Coordinator and a BG Coordinator, as interest in those activities grows, but none named as yet.

You can only hold 1 Rank, which really only comes into play on the Assist Supervisor rank, as we've got 1 Warlock ,1 Mage, and 2 Hunters, who are then ineligible to be the Class Captain for their respective classes. I'm not sure how the political aspect will play out in those 3 classes that have overlap, but only time and some runs into Kara will tell.

During the "any other business" section of the meeting, new guy chips in with some idea of professions and that the guild needs only 3 enchanters, 2 jewel crafters, no alchemists, and everyone else should drop one of their profs and take up engineering. In his mind, that's the best way for a guild to work. I wonder if he was drunk or sniffing glue? Or maybe both? Lots of boo's and hiss's kicked him off the stage.

We did a highest-roll-takes-all, 10g to enter, lottery. Fun diversion, with 11 of the players present willing to cough up the dough. The winner bought a round of beer for the party. Pretty simple and silly, and I blew 10 gold, but I do think silly things like that build some team spirit, which is what we need lots more of.

All in all, a well run meeting, with some good information, some healthy communication, and a little bit of fun.

See? I can have a positive attitude :-)

The WoW-Jones Industrial Average

I'll start off by saying, for the umpteenth time, that while herbalism has led me to giant financial joys in WoW, lately its like school in summer time, it sux. Positive thinking, my @$$

Ok, on to the post...

Raise your hand if you use an alt as your AH mule?

Now, raise your other hand if you also created a guild for that AH mule, purely to gain access to the new guild vault features (and the side benefit of no longer being un-guilded and thus the target of "sign my charter" spam)?

I know that before the guild vault was available, my AH mule's personal bank slots were jam packed with all sorts of stuff that I was either saving up for optimal stack sizes before selling, or just wouldn't sell so I was holding on for better market conditions.

Ok, you can put your hand(s) down now.

The guild vault helped reduce the problem, for a while. Now I've got two tabs that're nearly full. Granted, one whole tab full with green items to DE, and his Enchanting just hit 275 on wednesday, so those puppies will get one final run through the AH, afterwhich any that don't sell will be sizzled, and I'll have an empty slot to play with. When's somebody going to write an addon that calculates the total value of all items on a Guild Vault tab? Don't look at me ;-) I'd like to see the total value of the giant pile of greenies, then sizzle them all and replace the spots with the DE'd mats and compare the values, without a lot of manual arithmetic fuss.

Led me to ponder, as I'm apt to about a new profession called Banker.

Only a half baked idea at this point, but it would be a profession for exactly this purpose, an alt who's main purpose in life is to read email, sell stuff, and reap gold.

Possible features of the Banking profession:
1) Firstly, you can only play him during normal business hours, as he is a Banker afterall :-)

2) Maybe this type of player comes with all the bank slots pre-filled with large bags

3) Bankers get access to a "savings account" where they can earn some sort of realm-specific adjustable interest rate. Not sure how they'd calculate this interest rate, but I'm sure they have economists on staff at Blizzard who could figure out a formula based upon the market conditions and fluctuations of prices and volumes of certain staple products. Maybe a WoW-Jones Industrial Average?

4) If the savings account proves to be an economically viable concept by Blizz, then as you skill up your banker, you could invest in CD's, Mutual Funds, and other more advanced financial instruments.

5) New recipes in the Tailoring profession for formal business attire. My dwarf would look awesome in a 3-piece suit. And maybe my engineer can craft a Comb so he could brush his hair into a nice little do, kinda like when Bart Simpson combs his hair for church.

6) You could set it up such that the gold resides on the Banker alt, but your main can withdraw the money without having to log out and then log back in. Not sure if it should work that way for item slots as well, but maybe.

Sure, this profession wouldn't be as feature-rich as some of the others, but it would solve some of the things that are painful about storing items, and I'm not 100% clear on Blizzards reasons for making those activities difficult on us.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Friendly with the Violet Eye

Long story short....Amava 1, Moroes 0

Ok. Perhaps he wiped us once. And perhaps Amava died the next time with Moroes at 2%

Amava 0, Morose 2

But I've got two Badges of Justice that say the first score is right.

Now to turn a short story long, as I'm apt to do, here's the juicy parts.

Within seconds of logging in Tuesday night, I get a tell from a guildie/friend saying that another guildie needs a Black Morass run. Sure, I'm a big fan of that fight, so count me in. 4 guildies, we spend a while in LFM trying to find a healer. Worked out nicely because I got 5 daily quests done during that time. Ka-ching.

We find a Holy Paladin who also needs the run for his key

We handle BM like pros, and pewpewpew, and welcome two new players to the world of Attuned for Karazhan.

Within seconds of the BM boss dragon going down, Holy Paladin says his guild wants him in Kara that very moment, so he's got to hearth to Shatt to talk to Khadgar.

The remaining 4 of us decide to clear out some group quests, so we head up to Netherstorm and begin to putz around. I had already solo'd half the group quests we were trying to do, but it was fun working with some guildies and being pretty relaxed, and collecting some Netherbloom.

A little while later, I get a whisper from a friend who I run as much dungeons with as I can.

"hey amava? wanna come to kara?"

Hmmm? (lifts pinky to mouth, a la Dr. Evil)

I ask the guildies I'm with, including the guild's (informal) #2 if they mind if I go. I felt kinda bad, but in case you're not up on current events, I'm a bit itchy to get in there. They're all cool about it, and say it'll be a good learning experience for when the guild starts going in.

Summon to Deadwind Pass. I look at the raid group. Holy Paladin from BM is in there. My friend is dressed as a tree, when she's usually a bear, and she's lol'ing about it. I actually had over half the group on my friends list from PUG runs. Cool stuff. Small world.

They'd already cleared Attumen, and were on the trash going up the stairs towards Moroes.

Ok, self. Think. Turn pet on passive. Turn growl off. Check. Check.

Eat some burgers and some bits, drink some green juice. Drink some other green juice. Feed pet a couple times, just to be sure. Make sure Outfitter actually worked and swapped the Hourglass in for the Carrot. Make sure your fishing pole isn't accidentally equipped and your santa hat is in the bag and not on your head.

Turn on CLSaver. Activate BigWigs.

Between trash pulls, minimize WoW and download, install, and configure Ventrilo.

During pulls, remain overly cautious lest you target a mob off in the distance and send your pet off on a wild undead chase.

Get to Morose's room. First 2-pull, they specify 1 for me to trap. We've got a Mage handy, but OK, I'm game. Set trap, pull, mob comes my way, Wham Wham, I'm dead. ???? Must have resisted or somethin'.

Get rez'd then get stern talking to about keeping distance between me and my traps so I don't get 2 shot. Yeah, yeah. I know, the noob hunter just got killed by his turkey. I keep my mouth shut, I'm the new guy, and I can't argue the fact that I did indeed get killed by the blue square.

Next up is another 2-pull. Again, one marked for me to trap. Making sure that I leave more space than normal between me and my trap, we pull. Guy runs through my trap and IMMUNE flashes across the screen.

Boo-ya!!! I calmly call out that the guy is immune, and I concussive kite him until the OT comes to the rescue. Raid Leader does an excellent job of backpeddling and apologizing for (A) assigning immune target and (B) talking sternly to the new guy. Ok, apology accepted, tyvm. He really was pretty cool about the whole thing. Lets get on with the whoop ass.

Now we've got Moroes, 3 guys that everyone is calling Paladins, and 1 guy that people are calling a priest. They mark the priest for me with square, they mark one pally with moon for the other hunter. Then pally skull will be untanked and, they called it "DPS Kite", meaning that all DPS wrestle with the mob with whoever gets aggro moving away from the mob. Third and final pally gets X for Off Tank. Moroes will get main tanked.

I point out that the square is not suitable for a turkey because she'll just stand there and fry me or heal her buddies, which ever is her preference. Probably the first followed by the second. They're cool about it and switch the targets so 2 pallies are being tanked.

No talk of Polymorph which I felt was strange, but who knows, maybe they're immune or some other reason to avoid sheeping.

Pull goes, I do a moderate job of trapping the moon. I struggled to re-gain target on him after the healers out-threated me by the 4th trap. Once I got him back under control, the raid wiped.

Rez and try again. All is well in the world, and Moroes takes a dive, dying right next to the suckling pig on his dinner table.

I'm not sure what hit me, but I died with the boss at about 2% health. But the party continued on to victory. Rogue dagger and Mage cloth drops. I get my 2 badges.

We grind the way over to Maiden of Virtue. Tried 5 times. Nada. Combination of not enough stamina in the group along with too slow removal of the Holy Fires. Basically when you got the Holy Fire, you died. Made for pretty quick fights. We said good night and parted ways.


1) Pretty cool place, at least the parts I saw. I like the ball room atmosphere of Moroes, and the eerie harpsichord music went well with it.

2) Fights with 10 people are neat. I love the added complexity. When my guild gets in there, we're definitely going to need to step up the coordination a lot.

3) Some of the trash fights were really not any more complex, the mobs just have a ton of health and hit like trucks. Blah, that's not a whole lot different than a run of the (taren) mill 5-man, just a bit harder.

4) I need to play with my UI. Definitely need something that lets me see all 10 party unit frames instead of the 5 I was looking at. I've got a giant monitor, might as well cram it chock full of info that'll overwhelm me and largely go unnoticed due to overload :-)

5) Boss events are more involved than in the 5-man dungeons.

6) Nobody brings consumables. I was the only one with a food buff on my toon. I was nice and gave out some Ravager Dogs and some Blackened Basilisk that I had laying around, but other than that, nobody had any. I hope that's because they're new to Kara also and are still learning.

7) What's the deal with Raid ID? So am I allowed to go into Kara at all this week with other people? I definitely don't want to create a "raid ninja" situation where I go in with some other people and accidentally steal this guild's saved raid. I guarantee that since I went in on tuesday, the guild meeting on wednesday is going to be announcing a thursday raid. I just gurarantee it.

8) Can you use Polymorph on the mobs in Moroes' room?

9) WWS shows I missed 2 auto-shots (0.4%). Not a big surprise because I'm not quite at 142 hit rating yet. I'm not sure I'm concerned though, because to increase that hit rating, I'd need to replace some +agi or +ap gems with some more +hit gems. Doing so would effectively gimp the hundreds and hundreds of hits I had, in the effort of adding in two extra Auto Shots to my DPS output. Not sure exactly where the cutoff is, but it feels like there's diminishing returns on improving +hit any further. More tests to follow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Real Men of Genius

I don't usually want to just put a link up without chiming in with my own little blabbering story surrounding it, but here you go. I laughed enough trying to sing the little song in my head, that it gets its own link. Its an old-ish post, but I just found the blog today, so here you go...

Shunner of the Shield

Gearing up through PvP

More pondering on the gear upgrades.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to form a 3v3 arena team with him. He is always helping me out, and will run any dungeon I need to grind rep in or hope for a drop. I know he's big on BG's for gearing up, so I figured I'll help him out. PvP is not my cup of tea.

We get spanked in Arena. First week we go 1-9. Second week we go 2-10. Third week we go 4-12. Rating somewhere in the upper 1200's. Total garbage. We discuss strategy (kill the healer, if you can find him before you get ganked), we try executing the strategy (oh sh-t, i can't find the healer), we cry on eachother's shoulder (did the doors open yet? yeah dude you're facing the wrong way. oh, nm, i'm dead).

Then a few days ago, I learn that there's a cool axe available for 1000 arena points. Arena points? I've been doing arena, what're those? So somebody explains it to me, and I'm a sharp cookie, so I follow him to the quartermaster and I see the Axe and a handfull of other beauties. I also possess higher math skills, if not higher spelling skills, and I can see that we've got a bit over 500 arena points after the first 2 weeks, so a quick extrapolation shows that we need to bang out 10 games monday night, and then if the point income rate is linear, one more week and I'll be looking for an enchanter for my new axe.

Then there's also a bunch of other blogs around town that are debating the whole Welfare Epics and AFK players just grinding out their points to get the PvP rewards. I guess that on one side are hardcore raiders thinking that PvP rewards cheepen the glory of the raiding epics. And the hardcore PvP players feel that PvE raiding is painful and the random boss drops leave players feeling like they have no control over their own destiny. Not sure if I captured the argument correctly here, but that's my perception.

What about folks like me? At heart, I'm a PvE player. Not a raider yet, but I'm getting there. I play Arena. Poorly. Looking at me, you'd not know the difference between me and an AFK'er, unless you were listening to the swear-fest on vent during the matches. We do laugh and have some fun, but being dead before you can even target an enemy wears thin pretty quickly.

The matches we win are probably against AFK'ers, or maybe others like us who are trying but are just bad at it. Whenever I kite a plate wearer or an F-ing rogue using a combination of traps, concussive shot, arcane shot and serpent sting, I have a blast. I'm not good at it at all, but when I'm up against someone of equal skill as me (ie, low) at this little game, we have a slow sloppy, but in our minds, EPIC battle.

Even better when we actually do find the healer, and target him, and take him out like we planned.

I wonder where the hardcore people on either side of the PvP/PvE fence stand regarding people like us.

Then I got to thinking about it. Having never fired a shot in anger inside Karazhan I cant say for sure, but it would seem that during a week, it would be reasonable to say a casual guild new to raiding might spend 4-6 hours in there. Maybe more, but that's a starting point for a new guild. In that first week, is it reasonable for someone to get an epic drop? Probably. You as an individual probably shouldn't expect anything, lest the loot gods decide to hate on you. But a few people in the team will get some epic drops.

Now stretch that out, and keep running Kara for 4 weeks. Is it a bit more reasonable to expect that you as an individual will get a drop for yourself to equip? Not guaranteed, but probably a decent chance.

I'm looking at my Arena team. It'll take us 4 weeks to get our first pieces of gear. Or if you don't want that first 1000 point item, then the next items are around 1800, or 7 weeks. Depending upon the Arena queue times, you can get those points done in as little as an hour, or upwards from there as wait times vary.

So what's the difference?

I suppose the first one is time. Just using my entirely fabricated time frames, over that same month, you spent lets call it 6 hours in Arena, and perhaps 24 hours or more raiding. Again, this is semi-casual players, not hardcore players who do their 24 hours on the first 3 days of the month, or play tons of Arena matches. So there's clearly a time investment difference.

Then there's the organizational difference. For my arena team, we just needed to organize 3 people (plus two extras because one didnt show up, and his replacement DC'd, on a monday night when we needed our matches to be done before server reboot). For Karazhan, this is probably my biggest barrier to entry, where you need to organize 10 people plus a couple of subs to cover for absences and fights where the RL wants different classes to try stuff out.

And finally, I suppose there's the universally comparable challenge that a boss kill represents. In Arena, although we are improving (or playing worse teams through the rankings), there's no benchmark against which we can compare our accomplishments. If a guild takes down Curator, anybody else who's beaten him knows the level of challenge that was overcome. Even for good Arena teams, who maintain a high rating which is a big challenge, there's little benchmark for cross comparison. The difference is that good Arena teams will get the phat loot way quicker than the sloppy teams like mine. I do my extrapolations using some pretty minimum expectations at weekly point earnings. A good team would have a much steeper slope. During the course of the season, I will probably get two pieces, MAYBE a third (not sure how long the seaon is). The good players will be fully decked out in the S3 gear.

In summary, who cares? Why all the fuss? Go play your game, the way you like it, and have fun and collect phat loot. Only get jealous of other players if they steal your spot in a Kara raid :-P