Thursday, February 28, 2008

Quest Helper Link

By popular demand, the link I used to access the wonderful wonderful addon Quest Helper.

I've read that some people don't actually like the addon, because it makes questing too easy, and takes some of the zest of exploration and challenge out.

Personally, I love it. When I first started playing WoW, I didn't know about WoWHead or thottbot, or the likes. I found the nature of what I came to call "blind" questing to be hugely frustrating. Its not like you're trying to solve puzzles or creatively tackle problems. No. You've got to find the one spot in this giant world where the one type of mob among thousands drops the one item you want.

If the only "challenge" to a quest is to blindly kill random stuff until you find the mobs that drop what you want, then that kinda bores me. Its bad enough that once you find the mobs that drop what you want, you still have to grind through piles of them to get your items. So I research the quest on WoW Head, or Thottbot, to remove part of the drudgery.

When I first found those research sites, it was a giant improvement to my play time, especially because I've got 2 computers with monitors next to eachother, making access quite natural and easy. But even when one is shut down and I Alt-TAB to WoWHead, its still better than the in-game quest text.

QH takes it one step further, and integrates the experience.

And the benefit to parties? HUGE. How cool is it to be able to see shared quest goals so your party can really go help each other clear out those pesky group quests that're just laying there in your log for ages and ages.

Now if it could add a feature that will assist you in bringing a party member up through a quest chain to get sync'ed with the other members? That would be priceless. How often have you been in a group, ask for "share pls", only to find that you're unqualified?

If they could help you get caught up, w00t on them. Those types of features are, IMHO, the exact type of stuff Blizzard should be including by default to encourage socialization and group activity. Sure, sometimes you just want to solo and get away from it all, but if they made it that easy to cooperate with one another, the game would be so much cooler.

Getting Medieval Creative on Moroes

Moroes. For a group new to Kara and 10-man raids, that is still pretty much under-geared, specifically in the DPS ranks, and still getting the hang of how a larger variety of classes complement eachother, this is a tricky fight.

Pressure on your healers increases more and more as the fight wears on due to Garottes.

But to even get to that high-pressure phase of the fight, you've got to be able to control and kill some or all of the 4 guests.

So far, the only successful strat my team has been able to use is...

1) Two tanks stay at the tippy-top of Moroes' threat table.

2) A melee-dps'er stands directly on top of Moroes to absorb the Blind effect. (note: I'm not sure if this is necessary when you've got the two tanks on the top of the threat, but we do it anyways, at worst, it just lessens the DPS of that one player as he's trying hard to stay on top of the very mobile Moroes).

3) Two of the guests get Shackled. Although we've got no proof or evidence, the general impression of those performing the shackles is that the female guests stay shackled better and the males break out easily (perhaps due to that one lady who can break her friends out of shackle), so we tend to give a priority to shackling the females.

4) Hunter traps one guest, while the DPS'ers try to fry the last guest. Given our DPS levels, it usually takes 2 traps before the skull is dead and we are ready to kill the turkey.

5) For killing the skull and turkey, we have a third tank handle the tanking (duh). This has typically been a hybrid player, such as a non-prot warrior, or a DPS druid wearing some limited tanking gear.

6) Once the unshackled guests are dead, we DPS Moroes down, followed by his last two guests.

This strategy is pretty restrictive on our raid composition, in that we need that third tank, which is not always accessible to us, and also, by removing that tanking player from doing real strong DPS, we also tend to be more successful when we only have 2 healers, replacing the third healer with a DPS player.

WoWWiki page on Moroes offers up a suggestion that if you only have 2 tanks, you have the main tank focus on Moroes, and the off-tank can BOTH tank one of the adds (staying top on the guest's threat table) AND whack Moroes enough to stay 2nd on the boss's threat table. Makes sense, but I've never seen this done, and it sounds tricky.

Putting on my creative hat, I'm trying to find ways to be more flexible in there and still spank him. Without really proposing dropping players and replacing them with differrnt ones. Sure, we'll get to that someday if we cant become successful, but I'd like to first try to solve the problem assuming no dramatic staffing changes.

One option is to have me chain-trap a guest for longer, perhaps the whole fight. Given the width of the room, there's definitely enough room to trap pretty much indefinitely. This would gimp my DPS a bunch, so until such time as we have much more balanced DPS contributions from the full team, I think we need to avoid that.

Another option would be for me to swap out my Kitty for a tanking pet, and have him tank the Guests. I'm not sure how well a pet can do that job. I suppose only one way to find out, as I do still have my bear who's around level 47 or so, or a Boar who's pretty close to 70. And spend his talent points very heavy on the stamina, armor, and appropriate resists for the Moroes fight. Growl, FTW!!! This would also gimp my DPS, but perhaps a reasonable tradeoff?

The only other tweak to the current team that I can think of is to break up our healing corps. Currently 2xHoly Priest, and a Holy Paladin. Maybe re-spec the pally to Retribution? Then he can provide some healing assistance as necessary, provide DPS in general, and then, maybe, just maybe, he can be the tank for the guests? I've never run with a lvl 70 Retribution Paladin, so I'm not familiar with how well they can tank.

The normal party breakdown is:
2xProt Warrior (main and off tanks)
2xHoly Priest (heals)
1xHoly Paladin (heals, lol)

Hunter (me :-)

Where the Rogue and Holy Paladin are the two spots that most often get sub'ed in for when we try something different, or when they can't make it to the raid.

Any thoughts? How do you guys handle Moroes? Or more importantly, how did you handle him when you were kara noob?

Kara x 2

Short version of the story...check this WWS report out and tell me what you think of my new Crossbow (I'm Rhea).

Medium version of the story...I'm not sure how I like the crossbow yet, granted, in this report I had Blessing of Kings, which I haven't had too often lately, plus we had longer battles causing mana issues which would drop overall DPS, but the jury is still out.

Long version of the story...

Tuesday night. Fresh Kara raid ID's. Big pile of Master's-Key-havin' lvl 70's sitting around. What to do?

Why not form up two teams and head on in?

Well, not exactly like that, but you get the idea. Team 2 had the first run tuesday night. That team is more for the early evening schedule'd folks, rather than Team 1 which currently is more for the later evening folks.

Really happy to see on gchat when T2 took down Attumen. Gratz, couple wipes, but they took him down on their first night!!!

Then comes T1's turn to form up.

8 of the 10 members are online at the start time. Funny thing is, the pool of subs that we normally have available are all in Kara, working their way towards the Maiden.

One of the missing players was our normal Raid Leader for Team 1, so lucky Amava sends out the invites and starts thinking of options.

Half the team went down the hill outside Kara and started fishing. I've never fished in a group before, it was fun as h3ll. Plus, in the 30 minutes it took to find 2 more players, we collectively fished out about 100g worth of fishies. There's your repair bill and then some.

Found another guildie who wasn't on T2, and then somebody's friend PUG'ed into the team.


Oh, wait, not sweet. You mean I have to run this little party?

I've marked targets and led enough 5-man parties, but never a Kara / 10-man raid.

With 2 tanks and 2 priests/shackles, Attumen's stables is no problem. Only have a couple 5-pulls where I'd have to whip out a trap or two, but with a spare tank to pick up my turkey once the skull is burned down, easy peasy.

Our DPS was horrific. The PUG warlock was putting out less damage than the tanks, so I suppose he's pretty new to the endgame. But good attitude, which goes a long way, at least in Attumen's stable.

The DPS was so bad, it took 5:17 minutes to kill Attumen, which is about 25% longer than our previous Attumen kill, we were missing our normal RL and #2 DPS'er. But kill him we did. I've never had to deal with Mana Management as much in any fight before.

Found out that I actually have no idea how to be the Master Looter. Uber scared of mis-clicking and mis-assigning an Epic, I carefully clicked/rightclicked on everything and then figured it out. Ah, the pressure.

Aside: Is there any mod that'll automatically switch looting options from Group Loot to Master Looter once you reach a boss? Master Looter's a pain in the trash, but on bosses, its a good move.

With DPS that low I couldn't really decide whether Moroes or Maiden would be a better choice. I polled the group and went with Maiden. We had a third healer to keep the tank topped off while the 2 priests were dispelling the Holy Fires. Plus we had no suitable 3rd tank to handle the guests in Moroes' room, and that's the only strat that we've got to work so far.

We worked nicely through the trash in Maiden's hallway. I love me some Banish Demon from the 'locks. And you also know what I love? When the RL assignes a shackle to a demon!!! ZOMG, why won't the shackle hold? ZOMG, healer's dead. SH!T, other healer's dead. GAHHHH. Saved a wipe with some trapping and then a LOOOONNNNG battle to bring the 4 mobs down. Long enough for a healer to corpse run back and join back into the fight.

Oops, who was that RL anyways? Idiot.

Got to Maiden. Couldn't do it. Just no where near enough DPS, and 2 people didn't have Deadly Boss Mods or BigWigs installed to assist with positioning and repentance warnings.

And Amava was unaccustomed to her new crossbow and other equipment enhancements and crit crit crit, pull aggro (newb) and oneshot from the amazon Maiden. Who brought the new guy?

All in all, a sweet 2 hours in Kara. Really would have liked some more badges, but I'm here for the fun more than the loot.

Found out later that Team 2 fizzled on the room before the hallway to Maiden, but they all had a great time for their first night in. w00t.

So I says, "F It"

Set out farming for Eternium. Need lots of that for the 12 Fel Steel bars for my new Stabilized Eternium Scope, for my new Crystalline Crossbow.

Of course, my skill level is 1 at the time, so there's a lot of missed shots in my future.

Looking at the Khorium Scope on the AH that I could buy, knowing full well that it'll get replaced the moment I get my last piece of Eternium Ore, I began to think of my Guaranteed Loot Upgrade philosopy. Investing in that scope will no doubt feed the Tiki God of Pseudo Random Numbers, and cause an increased drop rate of Eternium.

So I says, "F It"

Attached the disposable Khorium Scope and went out into Terokkar Forrest to farm minerals and miss mobs.

Fired and missed lots, quickly earned a few hundred skill points. Got to the point where I was actually hitting more than missing, so I head on over to Netherwing Ledge hoping to do the quests in the mines where I'll be shooting at lvl 70 and 71 mobs, which will hopefully give the higher skill points more readily.

Got to 340 in the cave.

Head up to Skettis to farm some lvl 70 Warp Fleshes. A couple more skill points. At 347 I got bored. Points are coming pretty slowly now.

So I says, "F It"

Dr. Boom, here I come. I wanted to avoid him, as its a bit of a cheep move to skill up on his immobile @ss, but oh well, the count down to my Kara run is ticking, and I've got a bunch of RL good stuff to take care of first (mmmm, pan-fried Aldi's steaks), and I really don't want to go in there non-maxed out.

Stand on a barrel and fire away. And fire away, and fire away. Rapid fire, Improved Aspect of the Hawk shot speed procs, weaving in as many special shots as my mana'll allow.

348, 349. Ok, come on, stupid last point. Just ding already, will ya.

The RL dog is getting anxious to go play in the snow, cuz it's blizzarding outside. Lol, its also Blizzarding inside too, but my pup doesn't like computers. Other than The Daily Puppy!

So I says, "F It"

I put on my boots and snowsuit, with the intention of AFK Auto-Shotting my way through the last point. Now we're really getting into cheep moves :-)

And you know the physiological effect that equipping a full snow suit has on the human pee-pee system? You betcha, it proc'd, so I gotta go take care of that.

Ok, lemme just hit one last Rapid Fire before I head outside.

Ding 350.

On the flight back to Shatt City, flying with Track Minerals enabled on the mini-map...

Ding last Eternium Ore. I guess the sacrificial Khorium Scope did the trick because the rare Eternium Ore was a bit more like medium well done, they were dropping all over the place.

Ding new Scope.

So I says, "F It"

And head off to Deadwind Pass.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kablammy in da House

After spending weeks pondering different words that rhyme with Shammy, I went with Kablammy.

I wanted to incorporate "totem" into the name, but there's really no way to use 7 alphabetical characters in conjunction with "totem" without immediately conjuring up a phallic image. But then again, when the human mind wants to see phallus, I suppose there's no choice of words that'll avoid raising that flag, so to speak.

Silly name? Yes. Will I regret picking it in a few days/weeks? Probably. Fun for now? Absolutely.

Inspired by (A) my recent semi-struggle with getting a nice gem cut and (B) my desire to see how cool Quest Helper will be for a brand new baby toon, and (C) old advice sitting in the back of my mind from a RL friend who thought pretty strongly that I'd like playing shammy.

She's my new space-goat Shaman. Destined to be primarily a Jewelcrafter, and for now a miner because I do so enjoy gathering as I quest/level. And she needs to farm all her JC mats herself, as I'm not allowing my alts to spend gold on their profs until the savings tracker dings 10K, which according to the pretty linear pattern in the chart to the right, should be about 3 weeks away.

Playing the Draenei starting area with Quest Helper is pretty fun, although getting used to running around on your feet is rough when you're happily crusing the skies with epic flight and a riding crop, but ah well.

Got to level 10 in no time flat, which is no real surprise, but fun to see. Nearly no down time or wasted travel when using QH.

So far JC is kind of dull, but my discovery of Prospecting to get gems to craft stuff out of made it a drop better.

There you go. Kablammy. Yet another toon that'll see action during boring times, or times when I need to escape from the social scene, or when I go on a crafting binge and need to get to the next level cap for skill-ups. Aspirations for 70? Sure. Or maybe 80 by then. Probably never make it, but you gotta think big, right?

Quest Helper, don't leave your hearth-stone'd Inn without it

Earlier in my blogging career (lol, a couple months ago), I got some excellent advice from readers to install two addons that assist with questing: Light Headed and TomTom. LH provides easy access in-game to the wowhead comments about a quest, and TT provides easy to access way-points on your maps to map coords from inside those comments. These have proven to be a nice boost to questing and the efficiency of bouncing from quest to quest without too much extree travel.

Well, step aside LH & TT. My new baby is called Quest Helper. GO GET IT. RIGHT. NOW!!!!

If you've never worked with this puppy, you simpy must try it right now.

It actually makes questing fun. Real and pure fun. And hugely lucrative and efficient.

In a nutshell, it looks through your quest log, and then gives you automatic illustrated waypoints on both your world and mini-maps, tracing the route you should take bouncing from quest to quest, and at appropriate times coming back to turn in quests for credit/next quest in the chain.

But that's not all folks. It also provides a pop-up message when you hover over the way point, telling you what you should be doing when you get to that spot. Perfect for those quests where you have to collect some items that drop off some guys.

Without Quest Helper, you gotta go look up the quest item that you're looking for, look at what guys drop them, and find their location. Well QH gives you an animated flight path directing you to the area, tells you what mobs to kill to get the items you want. Its just simply beautiful.

And if that isn't enough, try running QH with others in a group who also have it installed. The addon will actually communicate and build everybody's quest log into your routing. Its so cool to have it tell you "stop here for your XYZ quest that you and two other guys have, then go here for PDQ quest that just the warlock has, then go here for ABC quest that these three folks have". All easily animated right on your maps, with pop-up windows to help you know what you're killing or looking for.

I just started using it about a week ago, and I think the word REVOLUTIONIZED is not extreme enough to describe how much more fun and lucrative it makes questing. I consider this guy right up there with Auctioneer and Omen as a "killer app" that so dramatically improves WoW, I just love it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I got your dinner guests...right here!!!

Moroes can kiss my @ss.

I'm not sure what other guilds or teams new to Kara go through, but as an overall event, Moroes is a big step up in team difficulty over any previous bosses players would normally encounter.

You go from Attumen, who's only real trick is having the off-tank pick up the rider when he first shows up, to a substantially more complex and dynamic environment.

You start out with the dinner guests. Pick 4 out of 6 possible guys, different each week. Gotta control or fry these guys, and they pretty much require tanking to kill. And they hit hard, drain mana, stun, break shackles off of their friends, etc.

Then you've got the 2-tank aggro needs of Moroes himself. Gotta have two tanks as the top two players on the threat table or else you're toast.

Then you've got the blind effect, requiring some poor soul to stand right on top of Moroes and take one for the team.

Then there's the Garrote, really putting the stress on your healers, more and more as the fight wears on.

And the overall duration of the fight requires different mana management techniques than we've ever encountered, making spell/shot/cooldown choices much more sophisticated than earlier fights.

How do start-up teams progress? After Attumen's down, do you go after Maiden or Moroes? Seems that, while also tricky, maybe Maiden would be smarter to go for as she requires much less coordination, other than some melee dancing and fire dispelling?

Well, either way, at least on saturday night it was a moot point, 4 tries, Moroes DEAD!!!!!

Giant Kudos for the priests on the team. We went with only two healers, both Holy Priest. Unbelievable job handling their shackles of 2 of the guests until after Moroes was dead. I froze the other twice while we killed the first guest, and then killed my turkey.

Also, kudos to the DPS warrior who became the tank for the last part of the Moroes fight after our first two warriors were down.

With only two entry-level Kara healers, the Garrotes really caught up with us, and only a couple of us were still alive when Moroes died. Well, technically, we had a Feral Druid who could have whipped out some backup heals if needed, but we decided he'd be the blind guy, based on DPS output at the time.

Overall party DPS was 2055 for the fight. My personal DPS was 795, so I'm definitely digging all the new gear upgrades, and the new scope that made an appearance for its one and only Kara run.

We're making some improvements in the overall climate of performance among the DPS'ers. We've got some mages who're definitely underperforming, partly due to gearing (and spell hit in particular) and partly due to consumable use, and partly due to spell choices (I really can't comment on that one, as I have little knowledge of what most casting classes actually do for a living, and for a hunter, luckily I've got the easiest shot rotation of them all).

Still a big disparity between DPS positions 1 & 2 and then 3,4,5, but hopefully this new attention to enchants and gems and overall gear will at the very least raise the lower bar, if not close the gap, as the guys in 1 & 2 are also continuosly improving as well. w00t!!!!

Feels incredible to take Morose out and make him eat some of his own humble pie.

The Secret to Guaranteed Loot Upgrades

You want better loot? You got equipment that you're just waiting to get your hands on? Sure, you're running the right dungeons for boss drops, and you're grinding the right factions for rep rewards, you're farming the right mats for craftables.

But the gear you want just feels so slow in coming.

Whether its the random boss drops, or strangely inattainable faction currencies (read: Apexis Crystals), or that silly crafting random number generator that just won't give you a skill point for that yellow recipe, no matter how many stacks and stacks of mats you're throwing at it, or that 5-man crew who normally farms heroics that suddenly brain farts and cant even scrape up a single badge in a night of hammering away.

Just seems that something is keeping you away from your beautiful loot.

Well, I've got the secret for you...

Invest in your current gear. Heavily. The moment you've dumped a pile into a piece of gear you're looking to replace, that's exactly the moment the stars will align and get you the real upgrade you're looking for.

It really is that easy.

Case Study: The Crystalline Crossbow.

Having hit Exalted with Ogri'la, I want my Crystalline Crossbow, as its a nice upgrade over my Sky-Fire Hawk Bow, despite being a drop slow for my taste, and amount of haste (sorry, I couldn't resist).

But those damn Apexis Crystals felt so unattainable.

In a parallel stream of activities, my engineering friend recently got the schematic for Stabilized Eternium Scope off of Attumen. Only issue is that getting him to 375 skill level takes mass quantities of Adamantite, Eternium, and Khorium. So farming we went, yadda yadda yadda, he's at 375.

Cool, 1 scope, pls!!!! Thank you, drive thru.

Now the question: sitting there with my still-unequipped scope in hand, I'm in a quandry over how long it'll take me to get the 4 Apexis Crystals needed for the new crossbow. Do I apply the scope for a phat crit upgrade to my current kit, or do I sit on it and then apply to new xbow, if/when it arrives? Although I farmed all the mats other than one of the Star of Elunes, so in effect the cost is negligible, the opportunity cost of the mats is worth somewhere around 400g. And, sure, the gold is no problem, but a girl's got to have her principles of spending, or else she'll be broke in no time.

Clock ticking down towards Saturday night's Kara the back of Amava's mind is the Warlock who's getting better and better and nearly beating her out on overall damage output for a Kara run (although its those damn AOE packs of dinner guests that make the difference. Grr, /scream for buff to Volley, lol. I still pwn on boss fights)....Amava gets impulsive and click, roughly 1.25% increase to crit rating. Outstanding. Gimme Gimme Gimme. Kara run goes even better, 1.25% of which was due to the new scope :-)

Roll forward to Sunday night and my previous Kara run...yes BEM crystal farming...yadda yadda yadda, I've got my Crossbow and find myself farming Eternium Ore again, as I'm still short 7 Fel Steel Bars of a replacement scope, and unless I'm lucky along the way, I'll have to pay for both the Star of Elunes, as they're too rare to wait for 2 to drop off of normal mining activities.

But out of spite, I refuse to pay for the Eterniums. I don't care if I have to buy a Khorium Scope temporarily knowing fully that I'll throw it away, I'm just strange like that. And actually, that sorta fits the theme of this post, and if I do attach a Khorium scope, that'll guarantee that Eternium Ore drops much more frequently. I like it :-)

See, invest heavily in gear you hope to replace, and ye shall replace it.

Is it more proper to say "Star of Elunes" or "Stars of Elune"? Probably the latter, but the former sounds more fun.

And my favorite, my xbow skill is currently 1 (one). Yep, never equipped a crossbow yet. I suppose I'll have to do some homework before Tuesday's kara run. Maybe combine Eternium farming with ranged skill up'ing.

Disclaimer: Past results to not guarantee future performance.

Fun in the BEM

Brain dump time...title was gonna be "Fum in the BEM" to try to play off of "Fun in the Sun" but then I realized that "fum" and "bem" really don't rhyme, so then the title was gonna be "Fum in the BUM" or "Fem in the BEM", neither of which made any sense at all, but both have some strange perv aspect to them, so there. A little too much info about the insanity that is Amava's Post Title Generator Altorithm.

So, to wrap up some old business, for the one of you out there who really cares about my personal well-being, and the two others who mildly care...after spending nearly a whole day stranded in Washington Dulles airport, tired, cranky, smelly, body aching all over, greazy, I did indeed get a flight back home, and made it just in time to get a quick nap and then go to see the Blue Man Group show, which was outstanding, btw.

Ok, on to the good stuff...

I want a Crystalline Crossbow. I've got all the required rep and shards, but I'm short 4 Apexis Crystals. How the F do you collect those?

First one is to kill all 4 summonable dragons in Blade's Edge Mts, and then report in to a Sky Guard guy and tell him that the cloak you got is crap, just plain garbage. Really let him have it and yell at him how much you dislike him, his family, and his back-slot handouts. He'll ask you if you're sure a couple of times, and then exchange the cloak for a crystal. He's cool like that. My little adventure in the airport yielded me one of these cloaks, so the first crystal was nailed.

Next up, sunday night. Guild Kara run. Only 6 of the team were on, and our rule is 7 or bust. Not wanting to let the group fizzle entirely, we talk it over, and just about everybody's got some sort of group needs up in BEM. Sweet. First on the agenda, 4 dead dragons. In a blinding flash of the obvious, the fights are much more straightforward when you've got a healer, lol. Although one of the dragons did fling our mage off a cliff to her death :-(, but it was funny enough to be worth it.

Then we went up to the Forge Camp just to the north of Ogri'la. Took us a little while to figure out which of the "click-able" thingies up there would summon what we wanted. Cleared lots of trash that wanders around the area, including some GIANT pig dogs.

Wham, wham wham. Wham. 4 dead boss guys. Me and our warlock split the apexis crystals.

Ding 4 crystals. Ding new crossbow.

And the ogres near by all provided generous praise for my having learned how to work the whole process. I really do love how the Ogres over there treat you, by far the best factional reaction for Exalted people that I've seen.

Then we tried playing the group simon says game, royally messed up, but still managed to summon the Guardian guy, and spank him down. Funny to watch a guy up there doing the solo simonsays daily, and then this giant boss summons and he runs for the hills, scared. Horde :-P Then a party mate dinged some next level of rep, making him eligible for that same quest, so we went and did it again.

Lots of fun up in BEM.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Its been a week of business-related travel, which would probably be better called "lets see how many unsecured networks Amava can play WoW over".

5 airports, one hotel, all WoW enabled.

How long before my account gets cracked? Who knows, but it was just pure fun to sit in Sea-tac waiting for a changeover, joining up with some guildies in Blade's Edge Mountains and killing some dragons.

We took out all 4 of the summon-able dragons, collecting their scales, and making cloaks. 5 of us, one tank, 4 DPS, no heals. It basically became a game of "kill the tank with the dragon at 5% and then ping-pong aggro until its dead". Tank died each time, poor guy, but we killed each of them in a single shot.

These battles are pretty fun because the dragons run all around, wreak havoc with fears and stuff. I like it. Plus, I had a nice cult following of people watching over my shoulder in the airport. What's more fun, watch boring CNN with no sound on the airport tv, or watch some epic dragon battles with a nerd in a Thundercats t-shirt?

So now I'm sitting in Washington-Dulles, and my plane has been rescheduled 7 times, and now they're saying its gonna be another 2 hours. Sweet. At least I found an outlet so I've got juice and can post this entry and then get back to the Outlands.

And if the 2 hour delay grows anymore, and I miss getting home in time for Blue Man Group tonight, I just might snap. I'll have to become the Big Red Traveller. Watch the national news for more details.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oooh-gri'la and Shot Speeds

Get home sunday night from a sweet RL roadtrip where I got to make stuff out of real molten glass, and log in to grind out some dailies before bed.

Oooh, hey, very nice, ding Ogri'la Exalted.

I never really checked out their quartermaster before, so I wander over and look through his stuff.

What have we here? The Crystalline Crossbow.

That little baby represents a nice damage upgrade over my Sky-Fire Hawk Bow, small AP drop, made up for by nice crit increase, while still keeping me Spicy Hot Talbuk hit-capped without changing any gems or other gear.

What's got me thinking, though, is the shot speed. My current bow is a 2.4 speed, and the crossbow is 2.8.

Not sure what to do about it. Some say test it out at Dr. Boom. Sure, that'll show me what my personal DPS will behave like with either bow. But that misses out on an important thing since my rate of fire keeps my kitty happy.

Whether I crit for 67 damage on a wing clip or for 2617 on an Aimed Shot, my pet gets the same Kill Command, the same helping of Focus, and the same frenzy effect. A Beast Master really wants crits. Lots of 'em. Fast and continuous. Not necessarily big'ens, but lots and lots of crits. Ok, big'ens are nice too, as I'm not one to pass up on Mortal Shots, just so long as there's lots of them.

So, if I choose to go with this x-bow, which I most likely will, what are some short-term accessible (pre/early-kara) haste options that I can go after to offset this effect?

That, and I need to figure out how to get Apexis Crystals, as the quartermaster doesn't take Amava's Platinum Card.

Letter to Amava..."How have I wronged thee?"

Dear Amava,

What have I done to you? Why do you hate me so?

I just like to spend my time, slowly lumbering across southeast Zangarmarsh, not really bothering anybody, unless they swing by on some quest or other.

Sure, there's lots of herbs, and even a few mineral nodes in my neck of the woods, but that doesn't explain why you consistently go out of your rip off my own tenticles and beat me into the marsh with them.

Aren't there better places to see and harder mobs for you to kill?

You fly past me a couple times every day.

On your way to farm buzzard meat in Hellfire. On your way to do dailies in Blade's Edge Mts. On your way to gather Manaberries for cooking daily or Netherblooms for $$$ and superior mana oil. And then again on your way back to Shatt.

I see you coming, every day, and every day, I slowly go about my little routine of walking my route, trying not to make eye contact.

What's the deal with Tusker? You fly past her for that one cooking daily quest all the time. Why doesn't she get the special treatment also? Is it because she makes the sad pathetic sounding elephant death groan that brings out the carebear in you? You make me sick!

I don't even drop anything good, besides the occasional Strange Spore.

I think you're being a bit extreme, sending a big giant red beast growling at me, firing off Rapid Fire, Bladefist's Breadth, killing me with more than half your Bestial Wrath left. You're real tough. What am I, 9 levels below you?

And the herbs in my area aren't even the good ones!

I've been writing a letter a day to Blizzard to ask them to reincarnate me as a lvl 83 boss mob in the next expansion so I can get a little revenge. Any other guild, I'll just roll over and play Loot Vendor. But you, Amava? Pay back's a mutha, aint it?

WTF did I ever do to you?


Friday Night Dungeons

Friday nights are turning into Heroic Fests, and this past friday was no exception (although this coming friday has better stuff in store).

Normally a tale of triumph and domination (*) by a small band of players newly able handle some Heroic content, today's edition is painfully different.

To start off, the daily Heroic was Sethekk Halls. I haven't been there in ages (normal or heroic) so why not pay a visit and listen Ikiss QQ about trinkets for a little while.

Got in a group with some guildies, only 1 of whom I've run with before. Wiped on first pull. Examine the combat log and see that the tank is most definitely critable, and the dps for the team was being done 64% by a single player and "her" beautiful pet. Ok, what's one pull? Lets get back in there. Struggle along, but make progress, and my contribution to the DPS meter gets closer to 59% of party damage, while trapping.

Then the disgusting happens. My internet dies. Reboot computer. Nope. Reboot router, cable modem, other computer. Nope. Call cable company, sit on hold contemplating jumping onto any one of 6 unsecured wireless networks near me. Nah, that's not my bag, baby.

Cable company says, "oh, my bad, here you go" and they do something because it turned on immediately. I ask what happened, she gave some random sounding jumble of words. I didn't push the issue, anxious to get back on.

Needless to say, in the 30 minutes of downtime, the party disbanded. They were still on, and when I tried to get the party back together, two said they had to log now anyway. Why were you starting a dungeon with me when you had to log in 45 minutes to begin with? Whatever.

Get a group together, made up of some more familiar team members. Head back into Heroic Sethekk Halls. Clear with no issue up to the first boss. The guy who's got 4 waves of 4 elementals.

Utter frustration. 6 or 7 wipes. We just couldn't do it. Talk about a crushing blow to the ego. But probably good to be humbled. No stinking badges though.

Head up to Arcatraz to get a guildie his key fragment.

Then on over to Black Morass to get his key. I still like BM because its so different from other instances, although at one point our tank was gathering up trash and brought back roughly 30 crocs/spiders/jaguars. Our other big DPS'er died nearly istantly due to AoE'ing and aggroing like 20 of the mobs. I turned into a killing machine, and then everybody but me died, and with 3 mobs left, my pet died. I wing clipped, froze, concussed those bastards, killed 2 and then died on the last one :-( Pretty funny though.

Warlock who was blowing the Damage Meters away disconnected on portal 11. Shield was at 100% still, so I switched from adds over to the portal bosses. Fried them into the ground in a 4-man effort, and short one chrono beacon. Warlock re-connected right as the final boss showed up, just in time. Actually kept the shield at 100% for the entire encounter which was a first, and a matter of some pride as we even did it with our 4-man stint.

And end the night with yet another hugely under geared, under enchanted DPS guildie keyed and no team to place him on, as DPS recruiting is still outpacing Healer recruitment, despite the 2 remaining guild officers' best advices to the GM. Ah, well. Its actually been a cool place of late, so I'll stay away from the QQ bug.

* Ok, so "dominate" is a stretch, but we've been able to get through many heroics, one inch, one pull, one wipe, one badge (or seven) at a time.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Primal Butters

Primal Butters

For some reason, anytime I hear the plural form of Primal Nether, all I can think of is the South Park character Butters, so the phrase "Primal Nethers" hits my eyes or ears, but my brain receives "Primal Butters". I have absolutely no idea where it came from, other than perhaps the word "nethers" just sounds silly, and that I sometimes watch SP while playing WoW. Go figure.

In other news, Valentine's Day was awesome, good non-WoW fun. As much as I like WoW'ing it up, taking a night off to spend quality time with real people (as opposed to the imaginary people that're really just computer constructs who serve as guildmates) feels great.

That leaves me with little to write about here. So I'll do what I laughed about earlier...and speculate about patch changes.

Supposedly 2.4 will make Primal Butters bind on equip, which will make high-end crafted items more accessible. I like the concept.

Part of me is wishing for a different solution though. Ever since I learned about the 24-slot quiver that takes stacks and stacks of Light Feathers to craft, I learned that I'll need to find a crafter who has the recipe and a Primal Butter she's willing to part with. I've been saving up the feathers, and once I get them all, I was planning on taking a friend who's got the pattern on a run through a heroic that drops a nether, and hope that others are willing to pass on it, or that my crafter wins.

I had in my mind a new type of soulbound called BoC, or Bind on Craft.

BoC would be for items that require Primal Butters, and would kinda behave like soulbound items you want enchanted, using the trade window.

You go farm or use Badges to Purchase a Primal Butter which is BoP, and then you pop the butter into the trade window "not to be traded" and that allows a crafter to use it to craft something that is then instantly bound to the Butter Holder once its crafted.

Personally, I'd like it if all the BoP crafted items were like this, but I suppose that's because I'm not a crafter :-)

While I like the increased accessibility of the mats, I do like that you need to complete the Heroic or Badge-generating content as a small barrier to entry.

Under the 2.4 system, and BoE Butters, all you'll need to do is farm gold and you've got your item.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quality Apes Programming, LLC and the Irreplaceable Backpack

Over at WoW Insider, there was a post about the backpack that we all carry. You know the one. Its there when you're first born. You carry it with you everywhere. Sure, you get new purses and suitcases along the way, some of which you can sell or give to your main's brothers or sisters, and some of which are so important to you they become bound to your very soul.

But that first one. 16 beautiful slots.

And you're stuck. You can't change that little guy. Even though you've got access to a variety of larger bags, there's something special about that one bag.

The article indicates that the reason Blizz might have implemented this feature is due to computer memory, specifically on their servers.

I don't know man. Sounds fishy. First off, the number of alts people have won't impact memory. Only one alt is ever in memory at a given time. Sure, your alts take up disk space, but disk is cheep.

Even if it were some performance constraint, memory, processing speed, disk space, the weather in Fiji, and so on...I have a tough time buying into the fact that given five bag positions, by limiting a single one of those five to a bag size that's 4 slots smaller than the largest bags would have any material impact on the game at all.

And to top it off, they solve the physical constraints on their systems via multiple realms (ie horizontal scaling) and weekly reboots (ie why fix memory leaks when you can reboot), so even if all 10 million subscribers logged in simultaneously, no one server is eating it all. Granted if they're doing their shareholders any justice, they do some statistical analysis similar to power utility companies, who figure within a few standard deviations how many concurrent users they will need to support, and when consumer behavior goes outside those bounds, you get brownouts or server crashes. Back on track here, lady....

I'll take my own shot in the dark as to why that bag is not replaceable.

/cast Wild Speculation (Rank 7)

Consider yourself a level 1 nuthin of a toon. You're new to Azeroth, totally overwhelmed by both the beauty and complexity of the world and interface in front of you. Stumbling around the lowbie area, you're clickin' on everything you can get your little cursor on. You have no idea what an NPC is or how to buy and sell at a vendor, or anything at all about bags and item management.

Clickity click click and whoops, you just sold all your items, followed by your one and only one bag.


You're up Sht Creek and you've got a giant brown paddle.

Without a bag, you can't do anything. Nothing. Nathan. Nada. That toon is now effectively dead.

Now on to the real problem...

Blizzard recognized this issue, and they also recognized another issue...the cost of paying expensive software developers. Like any good business, they outsource the coding to the cheepest bidder.

Why not pay the same developers who they would later pay to code the Netherwing Drake. You know the ones who're dirt cheep and at times buggier than hell? Yeah those guys. How many times do I need to move my stupid drake left right up down front back just to land on the ground and pick a herb? Come on? Netherwing Ledge bugs out more than any zone I've ever seen, but I digress. I mean, really, the ariel swimming orcs over by the Not So Friendly Skies? Come on!!! Ok, stop it amava.

So Blizzard figured out that losing all your bags sucks. Smartly, they figured they'd build an in-game mechanism to prevent this from happening.

Unsmartly they just hardcoded it to never be able to be removed, replaced, or upgraded. Probably could be replaced by one or two lines of code that compare the incoming bag to the original backpack, and if the new one is bigger, then let 'er in.

/cast [target=Amava] STFU (Rank 7)

Actually, I don't mean to bad mouth Blizzard. I've loved their games for years, and continue to. I can't imagine how technically and organizationally difficult something like WoW must be to build and maintain.

Its just that funny image of them sitting around in a comittee somewhere trying to brainstorm out how to solve the "oh sht, my bags r gone" problem popped into my head. I picture chimps in diapers and khakis with laptops and thick rimmed glasses, and a white board, and empty cups of coffee scattered about. Two of them doodling silently, the other pretending to check his email on his blackberry but they all know he's playing the one and only company provided game (a Breakout ripoff), another staring out the window, one standing at the whiteboard getting impatient, and another tearing a sheet of paper into tiny bits and piling them up on the table while arguing with whiteboard guy, and the other two who're whispering and laughing anytime whiteboard guy says "duty".

Quality Apes Programming, LLC. Quality Gaming Solutions, Not Made From the Stuff We Fling at You.

Now get those monkeys working on making my dragon land on the ground better!!!!!

Gemmin it up on the Barry Gibbs Gem Show

Wanna blow some gold? Go on a gem binge.

I decided that I was done fartin around with these silly 2g gems, and its high time Amava polished her gear and put some of that pile of dubloons to use.

The name of the game is Delicate Living Ruby, and the nice +8 agi boost you get. A Beast Master's favorite Valentine's Day jewel, they really bring out the red glow of Bestial Wrath nicely.

However, what's a girl to do when the AH only has 2 DLR's listed, but her gear could benefit from 6 of them? When Amava finally gets off her ass and makes a decision to do something, well, she pretty much wants it DONE. NOW.

Except for when it comes to getting high level professional assistance from other players in WoW.

If you recall, it took me quite a while to locate a receptive enchanter who had Savagery. Poo poo on that, good thing I like the +35 agi enchant now :-P Of course, now that I don't want it, I know about 10 savagerists.

Then there's the little fun with my Engineer buddy from the other day. We needs us some Khorium for those power cores. Funny how rare Khorium is, but the day I'm actually looking for it, I find three nodes. I won't complain. Still don't have him up to 375 yet, but close, and I've nearly got my pile of Fel Steel ready for scope-making.

And now, jewels. I picked up some Living Rubies from the AH in the hopes that I could find someone to cut them into the Delicate variety for me.

I really wanted to have the four additional gems in place before wednesday's kara run. No JC in the guild was high enough to learn the recipe. Checking back on AH throughout the evening, I eventually found 2 more Delicate Living Ruby. Sent emails to the sellers saying I'd like to commission their services. No responses. Whispers were met like in Amazon Women on th Moon, when Arsenio Hall said "Aint no thelma here". So these crafters logged in for a sec to post their gems, and logged out before I could find them. Probably AH mules, although one of them was 70.

Spent a little time before heading off to Deadwind Pass barking in Trade for a crafter. Nope.

I guess I'll have to resort to the Blizz official forums, and maybe that'll turn up some action.

Right before bed, I found 1 more gem on AH, so I'm now only one stone away from having my gem situation squared away. Then I'll be able to post my before/after stats for the full impact of my Tres Eppis.

And you can see from the chart on the right (if my damn hosting provider could just stay available for 10 solid minutes) what the impact this little Valentine's Day special had on the savings project.

Raiding Crop

If you've been reading along, you know that my guild is at the tail end of switching over from being a mostly 50-70 levelling guild to a casual Kara raiding guild. Casual? I don't really know what it means, but I suppose the general thought is 2 or 3 nights in Kara per week. Not too insane about progress, but we do want to get a nice routine going and see where it goes from there.

We have a reasonably stable team going right now, and seem to be getting 2 scheduled, well-attended runs per week, and then maybe one aborted run that never starts off due to attendance or availability of subs. Our policy is that if 7 of the 10 team members are on at start time, we try to fill in the run from the guild, or if necessary, friends or PUGs.

With some recent member resignations, a big source of some discontent has gone, so there's substantially less QQ on guild chat. Also, with more runs happening, there've been more people getting to go on a run, sometimes getting some phat lewtz, or at least just being included, which is buying us more time to fill out a second team. Alliance Priests on Terokkar, pst Amava por favor :-)

All in all, its really nice to see progress, both in bosses and organization. Being the proactive little busy beaver that I am, I'm thinking of the next steps. Wednesday's Kara run pretty much sparked this in my mind.

No big surprise, but I'm willing to say that Attumen is pretty easy for our core team. We've taken Moroes down, but its really tough, and definitely not a sure thing. Wednesday night we only had 2 healers, so we tried bringing in another warrior to tank some of Moroes' dinner guests while we burned them down.

For this run, we were missing one of our normal DPS members, so we filled in with another Hunter from the guild. While buffing up after a wipe, I take a look at the Violation damage report. I see the other hunter is doing roughly half the damage output that the lead two DPS'ers are doing. Now, I don't advocate fighting bragging about damage meter positions, but there's a clear message here, and we're having a DPS problem.

First off, he's got a Bear with him. A bear. I've run with him a bunch in the past, he had a Raptor for a while. But here's his bear.

Then I inspect. F-ing Riding Crop is equipped. In Kara.

I look at the enchants. A mix mash of good enchants, absent enchants, and wrong enchants. At least wrong for raiding.

The gear is basically a poorly enchanted PvP rig. The guy's got 3k more health than I do.

Now, on to my mental struggle.

We've clearly got a problem here. But the thing the guild does not really have at this point is any atmosphere of invites being based upon performance. And we also do not really have any established process for reviewing gear/spec/performance and providing criticism.

My quandry is in how to begin forming that atmosphere?

If we cleared Moroes, I would feel a lot less concerned. But we didn't. We wiped thrice. Lack of DPS was not the only reason, but it is a big big part of it.

I'd really love to shape the culture such that its perfectly acceptable for me to offer up some ideas for necessary changes to this guy's setup before his next invite, backing it up with WWS report data, without seeming like a dick who's barking unsolicited orders.

So my question can I go about getting that sort of atmosphere in place? Its clear that performance needs to be raised, so I'm looking more for the soft or people side of how to go about setting the expectation that your performance IS being reviewed, and in extreme cases, you WILL need to change or else not get to play.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Scope or Listerine?

Tuesday night. Fresh Kara instance. Guild team forms up at the stone a little early. In what is becoming our little ritual, Amava starts up a cooking fire and we all gather round and people trade mats over to the cooks and we fry up our buffs. And Amava forks over some Netherbloom and vials to the enchanter and he mixes up some mana oils, and we make sure all the healers get some, plus any DPS'ers if there's leftovers. And we all watch the PvP'ers pound on eachother. And then we buff up and get ready to rock.

First pull goes off nearly right at the scheduled time, despite a little extra discussions over raid party composition.

Clear out the stables without fuss. Perhaps 2 deaths and no wipes up to Attumen.

One shot Attumen and his b1tch @ss trick of a ride, Midnight. Even though its a basic and easy fight, its great to see the coordination of the team and the confidence of the tanks. I was happy with my performance on the boss fight, most notably mana management. Not perfect, but I remembered to hit a mana pot as early as was reasonable, which allowed the cooldown to be up again before the fight was over. Also got to fire off a Bladefist's Breadth, Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire, and switch to Aspect of the Viper to mana regen while pounding away. In retrospect, I'm thinking that saving Bestial Wrath would have been a good idea, since it gives you reduced mana cost for special shots, but whatever, it was fun to watch.

A nice necklace dropped that we gave to the rogue in an ongoing effort to even out the DPS distribution among the team. He showed much joy.

My favorite, the schematic for the Stabilized Eternium Scope and its +28 crit wonder dropped, and our tank/engineer happily took it.

Cleared up the back steps to Moroes. Wiped a couple times on him. Just couldn't figure out how to kill off the guests fast enough. Last week when we took him down, we had a DPS druid who put on tank gear and tanked the first two adds for us. This time, we didn't have that luxury. Tried pet tanking, dead in maybe 2 or 3 shots. Tried holy paladin tanking, lol. Not pretty. Oh well, we'll figure something out for wednesday and serve Moroes up some of of his own guests.

A nice and fun 2 hours.

After the run, I excitedly ask the engineer if he's got a minute so I can grab the mats for the scope.

He says he's got time, but we'll have to wait for him to hit 375 skill before he can learn the recipe.

Ok, what're you at right now? Let me know what'll skill you up and we can farm mats for it.



This is the guy I've been shoveling hundreds of metal bars, piles of Khorium, motes, you name it. Two other crafters in the party even passed on a Primal Nether in a heroic run the other day, just so he could craft an epic pair of goggles. Now, mind you, if he's crafting equipment that helps him skill up, or tank better, I do this completely freely, without spite or resentment or any thoughts of ever expecting or accepting repayment. He's a great guy, fun to play with, does a good job tanking, on and on with the kudos.

but 267!!!!!!


So, after all these thoughts pass through me, and I take a short little walk around the house to cool off, tell the GF that the scope I had been happy-chicken-dancing about earlier would actually have to wait for quite some time, and I come back to the computer and notice that someone else in the raid put in text chat "267 or 367?" nice and simple.


Deadly Silence.

Then a chuckle in his south Texan accent, "oh yeah, 367, my bad".


That makes a bit more sense. I can cancel my trip to Dallas, having only packed a baseball bat and some brass 'nucks.

So now its time to farm mats up for a pile of Field Repair Bots to level that bad boy up and get my scope.

Not to mention that the scope takes massive quantities of refined mined ores (MQoRMO), which I actually have enough crapola stockpiled to craft the scope, with only spending money on one Star of Elune and a couple of leathers. w00t.

Dos Equis

...because Tres Eppis sounded like a strange title

In a beautiful move, Amava acquired three epic pieces of gear on Tuesday. And the real and true beauty, none of them were subject to the whims of the Tiki God of Pseudo Random Numbers.

You start off with a run in Kara. Ding Honored with Violet Eye. Try to turn in the quest, only to discover that you need to have the blue Violet Signet in your bag to do the turn in. Lol, had to run back through the Pass after the raid, but alas, I now have the epic Violet Signet with its wonderful +22hit. This means I can pretty much eliminate all +hit gems and replace them with +agi, +crit, +ap, or whatever. I started going through the process of mapping out my gem choices but fell asleep, so I'll have to do that before Wednesday's Kara run. The net effect is going to be pretty huge though.

Next up on the agenda, I decided to stop the analysis paralysis and just f-ing do it. I went to the floating crystal vendor thingie in Shatt and forked over 25 of my Badges of Justice and made my first badge purchase....Ring of Arathi Warlords. I was holding out on the purchase because I was stuck in this endless thought loop of trying to figure out which of the badge purchases would give me the biggest impact over my current gear, while not also being threatened by the potential for conflicting with possible boss drops that might or might not appear in the semi-near future. I went crosseyed, smacked the side of my head, and bought the damn ring. Lovely stuff.

Amava loves her new purple fingers. You'd think she was born in February and loves the color of her birthstone.

Once all that was sorted out, I went to finish up some dailies before the sun came up and the server's day reset. Off to Skettis to bomb the h3ll out of their unhatched yoots. What's that word you just said? What's a yoot? Oh, I'm sorry...youths. That's right. And I "splurged" on a new trinkey...Skyguard Silver Cross. I figured "why not?" Got some advice from some nice readers that would indicate that its a nice little item to have around. I wore it while doing the Netherwing Mine quests. The jury is still out. It replaced the Bladefist's Breadth. SSC gives you a random attack power increase after battle, while BB gives you the ability to control via on use for a smaller attack power boost. I do like the control of BB, as you can proc it when you get into a jam. Who knows, I'll have to give it a couple of days.

I'll have to finish off my gemming on wednesday so I can see the true impact that all this new gear had, but it's looking pretty nice.

And more beauty, I had a couple of auctions sell for prices I really didnt expect to sell, so the fancy gems won't really hurt the overall savings progress. Mo' Money!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Where's my damn cake?!?!

I do the daily cooking quest every day. Its the first one I do. Every. Day.

Why o why won't the Delicious Chocolate Cake recipe drop?

For the first long time, I always chose the Crate of Meat as the reward. I didn't have any good cooking recipes for the fish at the time, and the meat is useful for either my own buff food, buff food for sale or donation to guildies, or sometimes useful for future cooking quests (so I don't have to go kill wind serpents and raptors up in Blade's Edge for the Demon Boiled Surprise).

Then I got a bunch of nice fish recipes like the golden fish sticks which are sweet for my healers, so I've been exclusively fishy for the past few weeks.

What gives?

The google-cached page of WoWHead delicious chocolate cake recipe that I can read from work (ha ha, you mutha fers, just try to keep me down, muwahahaha) seems to indicate it can drop from either the Crate of Meat or the Barrel of Fish. But no matter, because it won't drop for me.

And the funny part is that I don't even want to bake the cake. I just want the stupid recipe.


I got ya badges, right here

I think it might be time to spend some money, and some BADGES!!!!

Not sure though, so I'll remain indecisive, tyvm.

As you can see from the chart to the right (if you're viewing the site directly and not via RSS), the gold's flowing in nicely, from a combination of daily questing and sales of stuff I gather. Plus the beautiful trash items that you pickup during a run through the Netherwing Ledge mine.

I'm now torn between throwing my savings goal a curve ball by spending a boat load of cash.

The most immediate places I can spend dough on are some improved gems and a fancy leg armor kit. I still wear a bunch of the gems that sell for about 2g. I can upgrade these to the gems that sell for 35-45g. Two problems with this...(1) that 40g difference typically bumps you only a little bit such as +6agi for 2g or +8agi for 40g, and (2) by upgrading some of my +hit gems, I'd be able to then eliminate some of the other +hit gems and still remain Spicy Hot Talbuk-hit capped. #2 would require sitting down and planning these gems out which I lack the patience for right now. My WoW time that's not spent in-game goes to the blog or to a pet project I've got brewing, some what along the lines of the savings tracker chart.

The fancy leg armor that provides +50 attack power and +12 crit are going for roughly 450g (anecdotal evidence only, I haven't personally seen one). So that 450g would give me 10 aditional AP and 2 additional crit points. Ouch. But I did just get these nice new pants, so maybe they're worth the big bucks.

Why do they make it so confusing :-)

Then on to my badges. A full clear of Heroic Slave Pens on monday night left me with 25 Badges of Justice, which means I can actually buy something if I want, or choose to keep saving for the bigger items.

For 25 badges, I can get a ring or a cloak. Of the two, the ring looks like it gives me the biggest bonus. I'm thinking it'll be better to buy now, rather than save for a 41 or 60 badge item, with the motivation being that with improved stats, future badges will be a drop more accessible, and thus will come in faster. Probably faulty logic, and hugely depends upon the rest of the team subscribing to the same school of thought, but bah, I wants me some more epics.

In fact, I want to see how many purples I can be wearing before I replace my green boots.

Heroic Monday

Monday night was a guild meeting followed by a run through Heroic Slave Pens.

The former was uneventful. Just a little hoo-rah speech trying to keep everybody comfy cozy following two dramas from the weekend. One invoved some immature folks going on a tear of hugely inappropriate gchat involving race, religion, gender, lifestyle choice, you name it. Instant /gkick and an explantion to the guild of the zero tolerance policy. The other drama doesn't need much air time, but suffice it to say, converting a guild from a levelling guild to a raiding guild is not easy. In lighter news, Amava continued her losing streak of the gold lotto drawing at guild meetings. 10g to enter, winner takes all, Amava typically rolls between 7 and 14.

The later (slave pens) was awesome. About an hour and 45 minutes to clear the place, 3 Badges of Justice, 3 equipment upgrades for teammates. Even let our MT get some practice as Raid Leader, which he did great with. 2 wipes, and one near wipe as they did a mind control of the MT, killed the rest of us, then the mobs disengaged and ran away, and then they released our MT from mind control and left him standing there out of combat, so we didn't count it as a real wipe :-) Also, it was our holy priest's first ever heroic clear, so lots of cheering was done. It feels awesome to have a growing team of players who can jump in and clear heroics. A lot of that depends upon our main tank who is awesome at planning out, crafting, looting, buying, enchanting, and finding upgrades to his gear. So gotta get some of the other tanks infected with that spirit. And DPS'ers. Oh yeah, and the healers. lol.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gnude Recap

Man, what a blast. BRK estimates roughly 250 gnaked level 1 gnomes entered into the race.

I took some screenshots, but BRK is displaying them plus lots of others in a much nicer post, so view them here.

Such a welcome change in pace from the normal grind of daily quests, looking for groups, farming raid mats, checking AH for gold (well, getting gold doesn't become boring for me), dealing with guild drama.

Put all that schlock aside for an hour and have some fun.

The start was hysterical, with everybody just /dancing or jumping. Looked like a giant popcorn machine. Then BRK gives the signal and we all ran like a swarm of mosquitos.

I came across at least two readers, Ess and GameDame, while in the starting area which was cool to see.

My GF was watching along, and she was only slightly disappointed at my running near the rear of the pack. Since I was pretty far back, most of the mobs were already aggroed and so there were only a few moments where the group around me had to swarm away from a croc and watch one or two of our compadres get eaten. She was hoping more for a scene like the first five minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

As we exited Dun Algaz and entered the Wetlands, you could see all the gnomes ahead of me all getting enveloped in some strange golden aura, all right around the same place. Ahhh, levelling up. Since we were all just running and getting exploration XP, we all dinged 2 as we hit the same spot. Really cool effect that I didn't expect.

The best part of the whole event is that it was a great chance to include your special RL people who don't necessarily share your interest in WoW. Watching a raid might be interesting for a few minutes, but if you don't really care too much about the game, it gets old in a hurry.

But this little fiesta? There's no better way to share a WoW moment with someone you love.

Especially if you have your own RL version of the event afterwards ;-)

What size nest egg?

Randomly wandering through my thoughts for the afternoon, an idea popped into my head. More of a rhetorical question, but food for thought, nonetheless.

How much gold will be "a lot" of gold when Wrath of the Lich King comes out?

Blizzard engineered The Burning Crusade economy to make the gold earning capacity of those who purchase the xpac to be substantially higher than those who don't have the pack, as incentive to purchase the new software. They basically obsoleted the economy of the old world. Sure, you can make money without the expansion. H3ll, some people can make a fortune doing nothing but playing the AH with a low level toon starting with little or no seed money. But for the normal player, who is playing via questing, grinding, professions, and basic AH activity, its no contest. Outlands econonmy trumps Azeroth.

I'm assuming that pattern will be repeated going into the next expansion. The question on my mind is how much?

One way to try to predict is looking at the most tangible money sink in the game: epic riding.

To make the math easy, lets pretend that the epic riding skill plus a mount costs 1000 gold for epic galloping, and 5000 gold for epic flying.

Using just this as the basis for the whole economy (which is not really correct, but whatever, work with me here), Blizz made the expansion's major money sink grow 500% from original game into first expansion pack.

I'm not sure what the story is with flight and mounts and such in WotLK, but I hear tell that there won't be a new level of riding training as the next big money sink. Who cares, because whether its riding or not, there will still be some kind of single giant expense built into the game to help keep inflation under control. Or they might F things up entirely and build in a small-ish recurring expense on top of the already recurring raid expenses, but that wouldn't fit with my little thought exercise here, so skip that.

So how much will it be? They could continue in a linear fashion and increase the cost by another 500% over the original Azeroth prices, which would indicate that the next big boy will cost about 10k gold. Or they could continue exponentially and increase the cost by 500% over the Outlands prices, at a whopping 25k gold.

Naturally, which ever price they go with will be arbitrary, as the whole economy and game will scale equally, meaning that if the exponential growth option were chosen, that 25K gold would be roughly equivalent in difficulty to save as is 5k in the current economy.

What do you think? If one was to set a goal for a nest egg to carry into the next expansion pack, what would you go with?

Rare BoP Drop

Wearing his new goggles, our main tank wanted to show his appreciation for the mats I sent him. I said that the best appreciation will come in the form of taking all those hits from those nasty trashies and bosses in Kara and heroics instead of me.

Insistent on repaying me, we had to get creative, as I don't need/want gold, and as a non-crafter, there's no mats I need (other than about 50 more light feathers so I can get a new quiver crafted for me).

Brainstorming for a good solution, we came up with something he can do as an engineer, namely craft me some arrow makers. The Adamantite Stingers give a nice DPS boost over the Warden's Arrows that I use.

Only catch is, the recipe is BoP and drops off of Sunfury Archers in Netherstorm.

So the plan was for us to pair up and head that-a ways and grind these silly blood elves into the ground until one coughed up the schematic.

Wowhead had some horror stories of hours and hours of killing with no drop.

Lol, he squats down to loot our 6th kill, and ding, he cheers over voice that we're all done.

And then he had to run to go pickup his new puppy dog in RL.

Grats on schematic, and grats on pup.

Friday Night Heroics

I'm not sure what happened, but somewhere along the way, heroic content has actually become doable for me and my cronies.

I really hope its due to gearing up, skilling up, and becoming better team players, rather than some nerf to heroic content.

Note that I said "doable" and not "on farm status". Wipes galore.

But we cleared them. Heroic Slave Pens followed by Heroic Under Bog in a 5 hour marathon.

Strangely enough, it just felt like normal mode of a dungeon when you're doing it at the appropriate level. You more or less steamroll along, then you hit a tricky pull, or a big multi-pull and maybe you wipe. Or maybe the warlock gets a drop slap happy and pulls aggro and dies on 4 pulls in a row while the rest of the party survives. And he's greeted with lots of friendly insults on the third death, and by the fourth one, we officially denied him a rez, but all in good clean fun.

During the SP run, a nice pair of epic leather pants, with some awesome DPS stats on it dropped. Everybody else in the party wears cloth or plate, so no contest. The pants have a good helping of +hit, so I got to go re-gem a bunch of my equipment, replacing stones that have +hit/+agi with pure +agi, with a net effect of me still being hit capped with a Spicy Hot Talbuk, and adding more than 1 full percent of crit.

Actually, I think we only sharded a single piece of gear through the entire two runs, which is great to see.

Tank won a Primal Nether, so I sent him a pile of Hardened Adamantite, Fel Steel, and Khorium bars so he could make some sweet tanking goggles.

All in all, I think we collected 7 badges in the evening, which gets me close to needing to decide what to spend them on.

Goose, its time to buzz the tower

Aether Ray Mount

So the fly boys over at the Sha'tari Skyguard are huge fans of the site, or maybe just Amava's flying skills.

I was doing my dailies while we were having the tail end of a guild meeting. I was a tad disgusted with the content of the meeting, and as I glanced down at my action bar, I noticed the stagnant Violet Eye rep progress bar sitting on my screen. As that was only reminding me of my disgust, I switched to my rep screen and looked for a suitable replacement.

Well, lookie here. I'm about a thousand rep away from Exalted with Sha'tari Skyguard.

Very nice. With about 800 or so rep available from 2 quests that were left for the day, I was in good shape. Knock off those two quests, and then start grinding Giant Kaliri and those walking lvl 71 birdmen on the ground in Skettis.

Ding, Exalted.

Lol, I had to look up where the quartermaster is so I could go buy a new car.

Went with red. Not sure why I strayed from purple, as any mount that has a purple option has been chosen in purple. purple (just wanted to say it one more time before the paragraph ended). purple.

Also noticed a cool trinket they sell which gives a nice +crit bonus over Bladefist's Breath, but the secondary bonus it gives you is added attack power when you kill a mob for honor or XP. I'm not sure if that means I have to fire the killing blow, or if anybody in my party can qualify. Might be a decent solo'ing trinket if it has to be me.

So now to figure out how to alter my mounting macro to allow me to mount up on my epic birdie, netherdrake, flying ray, or epic land mount. My current one is too close to the 255 character limit to allow me to use the same technique and add in the ray. Maybe I'll have to address them by bag slot index number to save from typing in those rather large mount names.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Group XP

Ok, first off, this is the second post in a few minutes that I'm writing in response to reading a post from Tobold's. I cant believe this gem of a blog has been out there for this long without me reading it yet. Go check it out.

Back in January he did a post about how XP is handed out for killing mobs and how it really encourages risk averse (perhaps fun averse as well?) behavior. Sure you get a bit more XP for fighting higher level mobs, but not enough to make up for the difficulty or mana-recovery down time. Also, fighting two mobs at the same time is way harder than fighting one at a time (for most classes), but the XP gain is the same for both situations.

That got me to thinking....

When you're grouped up, you individually get less XP for the kill.

Have you ever been out in a area, either grinding or working on a "kill X mobs" quest, and you come across another player who is clearly doing the same thing? So you ask them if they want to group up and they answer "nah, xp is better solo".

F- that.

If you want to encourage grouping and social situations (it is a massively online game and not a solitaire clone, afterall), why not offer a slight XP bonus if you are in a group of appropriately levelled characters?

I think the issue is that Blizz currently thinks they are giving a bonus to the group. If you kill the mob solo, you get X amount of xp. If you group up and kill it with two people, you both get Y amount of xp, and in general 2*Y > X, so Blizzard views the situation as a bonus. You individually got less XP but the universe of players as a whole got more XP due to your team work.

What would happen if they made it so that Y > X, even if only by a drop?

I think you'd see more collaboration and grouping while levelling, and in doing so, you'd have people levelling faster, which appears to be what they want at the Azeroth levels anyway.

Add to that a change that grants the drops from "gather Z drops off of X mobs" quests to all players in the group, and you'll have grouping become a sweet option for powerlevelling.

And hell, they could even do some special fun stuff, like you only get the bonus (or perhaps just a bigger bonus) if you're in a group with at least one of each party role (tank, healer, DPS). To make it fair on hybrid classes, they could build a little flag interface where the party leader can flag each player as to what role they're playing. Of course, this would be a little complex as it would have to make sure it doesn't allow a Rogue to be specified as the healer and so on. But I'm sure they could figure out a way to reward the group for trying to level up some tanks and healers, rather than just giving them better solo'ability (like +healing also translates to some +damage, which they did in a recent patch). The only reward of group play I can think of is in loot from dungeons, which is only accessible, theoretically, if you have the right blend.

Blizz Forums??

In my newly expanded blog reading, I've come across Tobold's fine site.

In a recent article, he writes about the official Blizzard WoW Forums being a total mess. Immature attitudes, flame wars galore, people vying for attention.

It made me think.

My general impression of forums in general is that they pretty quickly devolve into a tight clique where it basically turns into a small few being the respected opinions who everybody turns to for answers, and anybody who disagrees with those local experts are flamed to death at worst, or at best are just ignored. This might not be true in your experience, but over the years, I've seen this pattern again and again in forums and newsgroups in a variety of genres.

I'd never really considered looking at the official forums at all.

A few months ago, when I was frantically looking for a Savagery enchant, some kind readers of my wonderful blog referred me to the official Blizz forum for my realm. I went there, posted a 2 line message saying what I was looking for. Within a day or two, I got some responses (including Durgan's Horde toon :-P), and was able to get my enchant shortly.

I'd chalk that up as a successful use of the forum.

Other than that, I did find the sticky post that shows guild raid progression for my server. I haven't really done anything with that information, but it is good to know. As my guild progresses, I'll have to find out how to get added to the list.

That's really all I've used the official forums for. With all the other topics and categories they have, I wonder if there's some value out there that I'm missing amongst all the noise?

Stealth Referrals

I noticed the other day that one of my postings about forming up and selecting Kara teams and establishing a raiding schedule got substantially more comments than normal. Also, I casually looked at my SiteMeter icon and it showed a pretty explosive growth in hits in recent history.

Being the rocket scientist that I am, I go check to see who's referring to me and what do I discover?

An article on WoW Insider, highlighting my post and the issue that I present.

So if you came to me through that, thanks for coming, hope you enjoy the read.

If you wrote that article, how's about a heads up? Just an email would suffice :-) Hook a brother up!!! And thanks for the press/links. Pretty cool stuff.

I also found a bunch of other blogs that refer to me, and they were promptly added to my Google Reader, giving me a nice way to blow off a friday at work, getting caught up on their archives.

Not to mention that a few days after I get some increased traffic, I put up my Gold Tracker and for the first day, the image was dead because the hosting service I put the image on died about 25 minutes after I put it up, leaving the image broken the whole day until I saw it and moved it to another host. Ah well.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Got Gnude?

So BRK's Gnaked Gnome Race is tomorrow, saturday.

Strangely, there hasn't been too much buzz about it.

I had expected the blogging community to be alive with energy surrounding the event, but not even over at BRK has there been much promotion going on.

Thursday night, I logged into Drenden and created my lvl 1 Gnome mage.

If you see Schrumpfung, give me a shout out.

He looks like a bald, pink Beavis, and will be wearing nothing but his tighty whities.

Now I Remember Why I Put Up With This Crap

Taking down a new boss. Such pure bliss.

Are you decked out in T6 gear? Does your guild grind Gruul on a regular basis? Do you farm Kara to grind out 22 badges in a single sitting?

Well, I'm not, and I don't, so don't laugh :-) ......

Wednesday night, in a guild first, we took down Moroes, and I gotta tell ya....what a treat.

Basically, the team did an amazing job. We decided to kill one guest, trap one guest, and shackle the other two. Using our DPS Druid in tanking gear, he tanked the first guest, and then as my second trap thawed out, he tanked that guy as we burned him down. We kept the two shackles alive until after Moroes was dead. Our two warriors tanked Moroes himself, and our Rogue was the unfortunate soul chosen to stand right on top of the boss and take the blindings.

On the first try, we left the Druid in DPS gear and he couldn't hold aggro and we wiped. Second time, he switched gear and everything clicked perfectly.

What a rush!!! It totally reminded me why I've been working all these months to get the team together and ready.

He dropped some leather gear that actually would have been a decent DPS upgrade for me, but I decided to pass and let the Druid and Rogue roll for it. The more well-rounded we can get the team's damage output to be, the better off we'll be. I'm a progression whore, not a loot one.

Then on to Maiden. Even clearing the trash to Maiden was fun. We misjudged a pull or two so had to get creative, and those ladies in that hallway hit hard and have massive health.

Couldn't get Maiden to go down. Got her to 24% though, so that's pretty sweet for our first try. We'll figure that biznitch out and take her Badges soon.

On to some performance analysis...

Taking away a lesson from a post by Pelides that very day, I was as aggressive as possible with Bestial Wrath, my Bladefist's Breadth attack power trinket, and Rapid Fire (well, I'm still a bit sloppy with the Rapid Fire, but the other two were going nicely), using them any time the cooldown was up, on trash, bosses, whatever. And sadly, Pel has decided to focus on RL and stop WoW'ing. I say "sadly" because I'll miss his nice posts, and also his comments here and on other blogs, but I think it's a good move and not "sad" at all.

As a result, my personal DPS was up by a nice little chunk. Here's the WWS report, starring Amava in the role of Rhea "Pearlman". I was very pleased to see my own DPS at 739 for the Moroes death, and also our total party DPS at 2303. Additionally, I liked the overall distribution of damage output a little better than other nights, with three really solid contributions, and a Druid who self-lessly took a reduction in his personal DPS and tanked for us when needed, and a Rogue who took the blindings.

Its a pleasure to work with a team like that.

I didn't miss a shot the whole night, which means my 124 hit rating with Warp Burgers for trash and 144 hit rating with Spicy Hot Talbuk for bosses is working nicely.

Looking at the Moroes death, I had a near perfect 1:1 ratio of damage from Auto:Steady Shots. And overall, Cringer (aka Aristocat) did 31% of my damage output.

Strangely though, my crit% when raid buffed was somewhere in the 24% range, but the report shows me at 15-16% actual crits against Moroes when we took him down. I wonder?

I can't wait for the reset to try the boss out again.

EDIT: in another "sad" note, One Among Many also posted today about retiring from WoW. Its contagious.

No, really, you can have it

Amava's split personality came out wednesday night. A stack of Eternium bars expired on the AH even though I underpriced the market by a bunch. And also a stack of Netherweave Cloth, which NEVER expires when I use the Auctioneer recommended price. This triggered an emotional response that's probably inappropriately extreme, but I don't think any of my teammates cared, and its an example of where my spite turned out nice for others.

To spite the AH, I decided to switch on "help the guildie skill up" mode. I whispered a bunch of guildies who have crafting professions that're not at max skill level, and asked what mats would help them level. If I had any, it went in the mail.

I've got two guild vault tabs chock full of gems, ores (not sure why, but I don't keep Khorium smelted), metal bars, herbs, cloths, disenchanting mats, motes, primals, reputation turn-ins, recipes/formulas/patterns, raw foods, cooked foods. You name it, I got it. In addition to being a gold junkie, I'm also a pack rat who holds onto stuff in the hopes that someday my alts will be able to use it to skill up. Bah.

I sent out hundreds of gold worth of mats and cooked foods. Only stipulation I gave was that (A) the stuff was to be used for skilling up, and (B) if they blabbed, I'd personally hunt them down and slay them. I don't want word getting out that Amava's a sucker. After I was done mailing, it still barely dented my stockpile, lol.

One cool outcome was that our tank is an engineer and he was able to make a field repair bot with some of the mats, so he brought that to Kara later that night. Those things are just plain cool. And I also found out that one of our priests is an Alchemist and has Relentless @ss, so I'll be able to stop blowing 35-40g per flask, and put that pile of Fel Lotus I've been collecting to good use.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Back Door

Logged in tuesday night around 11:30pm.

We recently restructured our Kara team concept by appointing team leaders who are then responsible for recruiting from inside the guild when possible, or when there's a specialty (such as priests for a specific skill like shackle, or a more general specialty like "healer") that's absent from the guild in sufficient quantity, recruit from outside the guild.

I knew that we had many of the slots of the team I volunteered for filled, but we had not yet arranged any schedule.

Log in tuesday and see a bunch of folks in Kara, many of whom I knew to be part of the team I was on.

And as luck would have it, I had an awesome night prior to that, so I didn't skip a beat. Many other nights, I'd have become a spiteful little brat at seeing that, as I am trying to encourage planning, even if it is only a day in advance. But not tuesday. I was actually happy that they found a full complement of players to run with.

I start doing some daily quests, and get a whisper from the raid leader saying they just took down Attumen in a two shot attempt, and somebody's got to go, so do I want in.

Hells yeah!!

Grab my consumables from the bank, get summoned over to the stone, head in and buff up.

And here's where I learn about the back door up to Moroes. Instead of the giant awful staircase that begins right at the opening of the zone, where I'm totally scared to use my pet as there's rumor of all kinds of pathing issues, we head up the back stairs from the repair guy who lives near where Attumen spawns. Ah, I love going in the back door.

Fun patch of trash, especially with two priests shackling as necessary. Lets me focus on pew pew rather than cee cee. Although I did leave traps at my healer's feet, which caught a few loose mobs (mostly some dogs that must get summoned because they weren't there at the beginning of the fight).

One of the trash non-elite guests who come in giant packs dropped me an epic mail belt. Compared to my blue belt, its a big armor upgrade, but big agi drop and tiny attack power drop, so I don't plan on wearing it, but funny to see epics drop off of non-elite trash.

We then took on Moroes. Tried a few times. Didn't take the boss down, but we made it much further into the battle than in previous attempts. Definitely some additional DPS as a few players had made spec changes, and some folks (like me) are slowly getting our first epics to increase our output.

There was another hunter with us who I never ran with before. I was really happy with his trapping on Moroes guest, plus he had a bunch of consumables with him.

I still need to run the WWS report for the portion of the night that I was there, but in general, I think the following things made a difference over the last time in:
1) Different off tank, who did a better job holding second place on Moroes threat table, thus allowing the fight to continue longer than in the past.
2) Better overall DPS (needs confirmation from WWS), leading to quicker burning of the trash, although we never made it through all of them.
3) An additional priest for shackles was very nice.

On the down side we had two pallies last time, and I love me some kings and might. This time, none.

And the nicest change was the restructuring of team members left us with a nice core of team players and good attitudes. Seems that by allowing guildies to volunteer for the team that they want to be in, our team has attracted players who are in tune with team spirit. And on top of that, the Raid Leader was much more confident and assertive in his role, in a good way. And since the leader was more confident, us worker bees were able to shut up and listen and follow, offering advice only on limited basis. All in all, a nice time in there.

We left off with a plan to come back in and beat on Moroes on wednesday night, so lets all cross our fingers and hope I can report back with another Badge of Justice or two.


I log in tuesday night and start doing some daily quests. Cooking quest needed me to get a chicken wing, so I hop on over to Skettis to scramble some eggs and collect a wing.

I had 17 of the eggs bombed when my team lead whispers me to see if I want to come join them in Kara. No doubt!!!!

I tell him I just need to shoot over to Shatt to pickup my raid bag with my flasks, potions, food stuffs, etc.

Drop another bomb, ding 2 more eggs.

Scoot over to another hut, drop another bomb.


No credit for the bomb, even though I clearly watched it travel down its arc and detonate directly on an egg. I'm still at 19/20 eggs.

Ok, maybe a glitch. Lemme go try another...

DAMN. nothing.

Ok, one more....

GRRRRR. nada.

At this point I give up, hearth to shatt, grab my stuff, get summoned, and have a fun time in Kara.

A few hours later, I find myself back in Skettis, determined to fry up that last egg.

Drop a few bombs, nothing.

Now its getting frustrating. So I abandon the quest and try again.

No credit at all for anything.

I'm exhausted at this point as its several hours past my normally late bedtime, and my wakeup time for work is dangerously close.

I log out.

Sleeping in a house that has 3 dogs basically means that you never get to sleep in, as one of them invariably wants to go out to pee, or one is a bit hungry or they just want to smack you in the face while you're sleeping.

So I found myself with a few minutes before work, and I log in, really determined to eat an egg sandwich courtesy of the nice folks over at Skettis Waffle House.

Bam, bam, bam, bam, Bam, bam, bam, bam, Bam, bam, bam, bam, Bam, bam, bam, bam, Bam, bam, bam, bam.

Eggs go down like a charm.

Then it dawns on me.

Raid invite came and was accepted right between eggs #19 and #20 the night before, and while in raid group, you can't progress non-raid quests.


New Site Feature: The Tracker

Against my better judgement, I'm unveiling a new feature on this site....The Tracker.

Occupying prime real estate in the upper right corner of the site, folks on feed readers (such as me and my Goggle Reader), well, you miss out unless you click.

In what will probably only invite attempts to have my account hacked, or at a minimum, prompt any Terokkar realm players who're hard up for a buck to stalk me, I wrote up a little program that parses the MoneyFu plugin's saved variable .lua file, extracts the gold quantitles in the pockets of each of my Alliance alts on the server, and then spits out a cute little chart of the growth/loss over time.

I figure BRK openly shares that he's got more gold than jebus, so I'm thinking this isn't exposing any extra risk (yeah right). Then again, his guild does seem to be a target of more and more hacks, but not him personally.

Of course, I'm having major trouble automating the scheduling of the task in Windows Vista, so for now I manually run the program whenever I remember to.

The goal is to give me a visual guide that'll motivate me to stop spending on alt professions until I ding 10k. All professional development needs to be done via harvesting any mats that I have the gathering skill for, and avoiding professional expenses on AH at all costs. That only presents an immediate concern for my engineering, as there's about 75 available skill points that I'd be much more apt to pay for rather than farm low level minerals for. Alchemy and Tailoring have 7 more priest levels to grind through before any skill points become available there. And Leatherworking is being done entirely organically since Moody skins as she goes.

Plus the stupid runed arcanite rod. I'm at 298 enchanting, and want to save one of those 2 points for the Runed Arcanite Rod that I've got to make anyways, so might as well get a point for it. But that bugger's gonna cost me a couple hundred, unless I postpone for several months until my other skills catch up and I can make and transmute all the mats myself. Probably never happen, but a boy's got to dream.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bloggers Love Being First

Lol. I get such a kick out of the blogging community. Specifically when it comes to the initial hints of what might be contained in a new patch.

Slight digression where I dabble with a little social theories and what not. I'm hugely simplifying here, so feel free to chime in or tell me why I'm wrong or selfish :-P

If you want to skip my digression, scroll to the bottom, and you'll find a couple of sentences about my patch 2.4 musings.

When it comes to interpersonal interactions, social networks of all different kinds form. One such network consists of mapping out information exchange (as opposed to a network mapping out bodily fluid exchange, although that one is probably more interesting). Each of us has a list of people who we get information (bodily fluid) from, and a list of people who we provide information (bodily fluid) to. You can draw a graph that has little circles representing each person, and lines connecting them to indicate who you give and take information from.

Of course, the bodily fluid example is not an exact analogy to information exchange, as it is typically bi-directional, where as information is a single direction, with an arrow going in both directions in some situations.

As you grow the scope of your graph, nodes begin to appear where there is a large number of outgoing arrows, meaning that person is a provider of information to a large number of people.

Take your graph a little further and you'll start to see that there are a few nodes that actually interconnect to lots of other nodes, but most notably, they connect to lots of these information providers. Meaning, there are a small number of people who provide information to the people who are major providers of information to others.

Making sense? Think of the analogy of me and BRK. I provide information to a small audience, who I love and respect, even when they call me selfish :-) Then you've got your BRK's who provide information to a giant audience, and also, more importantly, they hugely influence the small information providers like me.

In social network theory, these folks are known as "brokers". They are the people who interconnect all the others, and have the ability to move information very quickly, as they can spread the word to a few, and those other few will then in turn spread the word to a larger number and also add credibility to messages received directly from the broker.

Studies show that brokers tend, among other things, to be the early adopters of technology, fashion, entertainment, and just fads in general. And it makes sense that once brokers like something and start to talk about it, since they provide information to a large audience, it spreads and the fad or technology gains momentum from there.

So back to bloggers.

Why do you think there's tons and tons of free email, blogging, social networking (facebook, myspace) services?

One of the chief benefits the companies providing these services is that they get to map out social networks.

Think about it. Sure, they get page hits which they can turn into some advertising revenue. But mapping social networks is far more lucrative.

First you provide a service that allows someone to put their thoughts out there. A blog, a personal page, some videos, whatever.

Then you provide a mechanism for other people to link in to the things they're interested in, whether through a feed reader, subscription, friends list, technorati rating, whatever.

Pretty easily, you can map out who the brokers are.

Why do companies care who the brokers are? Remember what I said before? These guys tend to be early adopters of budding technologies and products and also they vocally spread the word to an audience who grows to trust their opinion.

Talk about a giant source of market analysis, just rich with indicators of what the next big thing will be?

So what does a company like google or yahoo do? You provide the mechanism to allow brokers to be identified.

Then you give them free email. And you run your searching/datamining algorithms over their communications to see what they're talking about.

I'm not describing some big brother looking over your shoulder and privacy intrusions and identity theft.

They don't care who you are personally. They just care (A) are you a broker, and (B) what are you talking about or interested in?

Wham-o, if you've got several independent brokers each generating buzz about the same thing, you've got a hugely reliable predictor of technology and product fads, and anybody with even the slightest investing savvy can then reap fortunes galore off of that information. Which they do, or at least they sell that data to companies that do. Not data about individual people, but rather, data about what the brokers are interested in next.

I think that's the end of the digression. Now how does this sort of wonderful crapola creep into my mind?

Every time you see a WoW patch on the horizon, you begin to see all sorts of predictions and musings popping up in the blogs. Ranging from simple copy-n-paste of the patch notes, to patch notes including some commentary of what the person thinks the impact will be, all the way to major discussions of huge alterations that people are going to make to their play style or gearing or AH purchases/sales.

You even get people who are so interested in being first on the block that they actually go play on the test realm.

Man, if these corporations found the social network brokers who are so anxious to be first in on trends that they actually go play on test servers, whew, would they have a little gold mine on their hands. Oh wait, Blizz already has that info. Lol.

I always get a kick out of reading the patch musings, and let my mind drift thinking about stuff like this.

So here's my patch musings for 2.4.......

Seems like another set of changes to rush us through Azeroth and Outlands so we can enjoy some of it before they obsolete it.

Better access to gear off of raid bosses and world bosses, since that gear will be discarded in a few months (or whatever schedule they'll release the xpac). Might as well let more people get access to it. Plus, the better gear will allow them to progress a bit further and see maybe another dungeon or two before they pass into history with Molten Core and the others.

Better access to gold through bosses and more daily quests. More gold will lead to more people getting flying and epic flying mounts, which were previously less accessible. I'm just wondering if the 10k gold that I'm shooting for right now will mean squat once the lich king is here. Eh, whatever, i'll just keep gathering and selling before and after the xpac.

Actually, I'm pretty happy to hear about more daily quests most of my lvl 70 play is in the dailies. Daily fishing will be cool, and definitely help me get that skill up, so kudos to blizz. I hope the patch will go as smoothly as 2.3 went.

Changes to BG, ok, cool. I keep saying (in my head) I want to try out more BG's, but I really don't play them enough to be too impacted by a patch.

And I'm pretty happy that there's going to be new combat log stuff that'll make tools like WWS more accurate. That's a good thing, as we all know, i'm a glory hog who wants credit for full damage done :-P Actually, I'm a WWS report creator who wants an easier job of creating the reports and linking up all the actors after a run is over.

Something about a new instance? Is that in this patch? Ok, cool. A 5-man dungeon, that's some content I can get into and actually try out. A 25-man one? Eh, i highly doubt I'll ever see it before, well, ever.

Not sure if they're going to fiddle with the Hunter shot clipping mechanism and the link between auto-shot and our specials. I honestly dont want them to change this. Sure, I'd love to do more DPS, but I think shot rotation is such a fundamental of the Hunter class that I want to be clingy. But just like the smaller deadzone, once they do change it, I'll get over my spite and begin to love the new way.

So there you go. Rambling done.