Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Haris Being all Stuffy

So I haven't posted in a while. Sorry, I'm feeling bitter and spiteful about something WoW-related, and I'm taking it out on you guys. I reserve the right to be a child about stuff :-P

On to the seriousness. I just got home and logged in for patch 2.4.3 and I want my Gigantique bags.

Haris Pilton won't talk to me.

None of the usual research sites has anything to offer about a quest or reputation needed to talk to her.

WHAT GIVES??????????????????

Did the patch not go?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guild on Pickup

Not sure if this is an original idea or not, but here goes.

Had an idea for the rarest Bind on Pickup profession recipes, formulas, patterns, schematics, etc.

Instead of binding to the individual crafter who loots it, they could bind it to the guild.

Then give the GM a new interface that allows you to designate two or three players of each profession as the Official Guild XYZ, where XYZ is Enchanter, Leatherworker, Engineer, Jewelcrafter, Blacksmith, Alchemist.

That sort of scheme might lead to additional guild loyalty by individual players.

It also might encourage guilds who run into trouble to actually try to put in the hard work to repair their internal issues, as well as their reputation in the community, rather than disband and form a new guild.

If the crafters faced losing access to those highest level patterns, people might think more about overall guild success and teamwork.

Level 5 by Summer's End

The uber gf and I both walk around daily, more or less conflicted inside. We both crave peace and quiet and serenity, and yet we're both drama queens who cram in as much activity into our days as possible, and have more thing we want to do than is humanly possible. To help bring these forces into balance, it takes some conscious effort. Usually we do this by trying to plan out ideas and see how to fit them in, while including lots of nice calm moments in between.

Sitting here at the beginning of a summer, we were walking along this beautiful waterfront pier, brainstorming what we want to do this summer.

We start the exercise with the standard brainstorming approach of "there's no bad ideas", which means that about 3 minutes in, the vast quantity of activities becomes so overwhelming as to paralyze you into not doing just about anything.

Once that feeling subsides, then we refine the list. Simplify things that are overly complicated. Reduce ideas to their component parts and see where we can overlap and satisfy two ideas with one activity. Look for things where we have very specific thoughts in mind, and also look for things where you have a general idea that can be satisfied in a variety of ways.

All in all, it ends up like a project planning effort, trying to maximize the productivity of our summer and not let life just fly by. We both get off on this kind of stuff, and it works really well for us. By the end of a session like this, we normally have a nice feel for the high level things eachother is interested in, we have some concrete action items to take care of in the next few days (reservations, online research, etc), and we're both full of excitement for the months ahead.

The key to all of these things is that we try to set the goals very attainable. If we start out thinking, "we'd like to try out 8 new restaurants this summer" and "we'd like to visit 3 different cities this summer", normally during the refinement stages, that might get narrowed down to "try out 2 new restaurants, one of which should be in a different city".

Keep it attainable so we can remain focused, and spend the summer smelling the roses without feeling like life is a race. And if we exceed our plan, well then all's the better.

So we've been thinking more and more about the gf trying out some WoW. She's not a gamer at heart, but the social aspect and the joy of working as a team has her intrigued. Which is great because the cooperative team aspect is one of my favorite parts of the game.

The other day, I'm playing my lvl 27 Druid in Ashenvale, killing 800 Satyrs to collect 8 horns.

She swings on by.

Whaccha doin?

Levelling moody

What're those?

Bad guys

How many you gotta kill?

'bout a million

Kai doit?

For real?

Yep, gittcho ass out the way

Yes Maam!!!

Now, mind you, this is a kinda rough patch of Ashenvale to be sitting in when you're 27 and very undergeared (I refuse to pay the unreal prices they're charging for AH greenies). You've got mobs that are lvl 27-29, all aggressive. Many packs of 2 pulls. Lots of stealthed rogues around. And they run away when near dead.

And a Druid at 27 is a somewhat complex beast with several shape shifting options, a variety of attacks and spells in each form, buffs, poison and curse dispelling, stealth, combo points, energy, mana.

So all in all, not the ideal place to be first dabbling with WoW.

Sitting there together, going over basics like camera control, toon movement, the basic attacks available, wtf combo points and energy are all about, stealthing and timing the approach for when a mob's back is turned.

We had a blast and she finished off the 800 satyres and collected those 8 horns like a champ.

Most fun I've had in WoW in ages.

So, back to our summer planning.

We set a goal of starting off a pair of toons together, and reaching the very attainable level of 5 by the summer's end. If its fun, the sky's the limit. If its just meh, level 5 isn't too much of a committment as to ruin life.

I can't wait!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

How can we suck so much?

I wish I had some screen shots to back this up, but oh well. You're gonna have to trust me on this. Its not like I'm trying to sell you a bridge here.

Played a few AV and AB matches recently to start piling up the Honor to replace my Vindicator's gear starting two weeks from now when the Guardian set becomes available.

Joined up with my 2v2 teammate and went into these BG's as a group.

I cannot begin to explain how much we dominated each and every BG we entered.

It made me so ashamed at our 1517 rating after 81 arena matches played (yes, we took a month or two off in the middle of Season 3).

Example: Arathi Basin

The two of us open up the game by capping the Blacksmith. Small skirmish, defeat off a few Hordies, take the node. Horde moves on to cap the remaining 4 nodes.

This pissed us off.

So we left BS undefended and sauntered on up to the Farm and captured it. There were 6 Horde when we got there. None of them bugged out and ran off. They all died. Two rez'd, came back in, and died again. It was just me and my partner.

We continued to move node to node. GM. ST. LM. Back to Farm. BS. Outnumbered at nearly every node we approached. Just the two of us. Captured the node every single time.

Went the entire AB without dying. He led the healing meters by triple the nearest Alliance player. Amava led the damage by more than double. Alliance won the game, after starting off being 4-capped.

Example: Alterac Valley #1

Other than when stuck behind a turtle and not feeling like doing a corpse run (/crossfingers that they'll not pick up my insignia, and let me rez at my corpse), I rarely play defense in AV.

My buddy says he wants to try it out. kk. The two of us head into Belinda's house. I think it was Belinda. The Alliance equivalent of Galv. We're the only two Allies in there, besides the NPCs.

Masses of Horde show up to kill her.

Nope. Wave after wave after wave after wave of Horde died. Nobody thought to target the two of us. He kept healing Bel, I kept killing Horde healers.

Horde was down to 150 resources by the time they gave up and stopped attacking her.

The healing and damage report was off the chart. The closest Ally to my damage output was 100k less than me. The nearest healer on either team had only a fraction of the healing output.

Example: Alterac Valley #2

Giddy off of the defensive victory, we decided to bring the fight to our enemy.

Went straight to IBGY. Piled up a stack of Horde corpses this high (visual cue: hand held out to the side, indicating a pile shoulder height. and my shoulders are abnormally far from the ground). By the time the rest of the Alliance killed off Galv, IBGY had actually capped.

Moved on to defend TP. Just us two. A constant stream of incoming Horde. Dead. Several minutes of nearly continuous combat up in that little room in the tower. TP blows up.

Run along to discover the entire Alliance offense is doing the silly little dance at FWGY. You know the one. The totally useless mass of bodies doing nothing else besides illustrating their complete and total inability to see something shiny (like some Horde) and not reach out for it (or go fight it).

So the two of us trot on past. This time, a random stranger (warrior tank, ftw) saw us going and joined in. The three of us went on to cap RHGY, cap both FW towers, fight off several horde trying to get through the gate and reclaim their towers, and then we went on to initiate the fight against Drek. We had him down to 55-ish % before any additional Alliance players made their way into the fight.

Even given the obscene mass slaughter in mid field near the FWGY, and even with keeping each and every shot I fired aimed at claiming or defending a strategic objective, I led the damage output by a large margin. And even though my friend healed primarily himself, Amava, Ruby the Boar, or our Warrior friend, healing was far and away the tops.

This one was actually pretty nasty, and Alliance won with 22 reinforcements to spare. But OOOOOHHHHH did it feel good.

So what's your point?

We understand, Amava, you've got a tiny doo-dad and need to make up for it by bragging about your conquests on the virtual battlefield, right?

Well, yeah, that.

But, wtf? Clearly we have some ability at PVP.

How in the hell has it been so hard for us to squeak our way above 1500 in arenas?

I'm not expecting 2000 or something outrageous, but 1600? Is that really that far fetched?

How can we possibly suck that much?

One Night, One Prince

Last week was a painful one for our Kara Team 1.

Ever since Team 2 started running, we have naturally been faced with some issues due to lack of substitute players. The pool of subs is now running their own raid, so generally we start off each raid night with each team looking for one or two players.

We've been giving preference to Team 2, so when we find some available subs, they get invited to T2 first, and once that team is full, we fill out T1.

Makes it kinda rough for the folks on Team 1, right when we were at the point that we were going to try to turn the whole Karazhan into a single night affair for the couple pieces of gear we collectively still need, and a big badge fest.

We've ended up running with lots of new folks, some PuG'ed, many of whom have never raided before. So what was supposed to be a massive boss killing spree has turned out to be a dud, with our last raid night becoming one of the single most depressing nights of non-progress to date. Nothing like a 45 minute late start, followed by dying again and again on bosses we used to one shot while afk to kill morale.

So me and the GM/RL got together before wednesday's raid to discuss what to do about it.

(A) Nobody gets to say "pls hold my spot until raid time, I might be on". Tentative signups will be given 20 minutes before raid time. If you signup and committ, we generally trust that you'll be there, even if you're just in time. But if you're tentatively signing up, you need to be on 20 minutes before the start.

(B) Lets try something a little different. Lets kill Prince tonight. No optional bosses, bee line for the Prince. Although its not quite a full clear, we figured that setting sights on a different goal than normal might boost overall team spirit.

Some additional brainstorming revealed that we really need to make the focus of the runs to be gearing up our new healers. The rest of the team is the veteran team who is mostly done gear-wise with Kara. With our three vet healers having a variety of schedule issues preventing them from raiding, we're running with a fresh healing corps, and they need some shiny loot.

So we inform the group that we're going to be making a slightly crooked line heading for the Prince, with a quickie dance with the Maiden for a possible sweet healy shard that she drops.

Ended up bringing a brand new, never been to kara hunter with us, and we were dedicated to not let explanations or what-not slow us down. Her spec was right on, her gear was decent and had some but not all enchants. Missing a scope which got a slap on the wrist.

Our Main Tank did the best job ever of chain pulling. Just wave after wave after wave, we plowed through the trash like it was nothing, with barely a moment to breathe. If the healers had 25% mana, he was pulling.

During the trash before the boss, I would explain the boss fight, rather than waiting for trash to be over. Only one player needed to hear the strategy, and so she was able to pay attention to what I was saying and basically just ignore the trash pulls for ease of concentration.

Moroes, dead. Maiden, dead. Big Bad Wolf, dead. Aside: I got the little red debuff applied to me right as the boss died, and I was one (1) second too slow on positioning myself next to the corpse, making my UI vanish, and taking a screenie. I looked so cute all tiny with a shrunken Crossbow of Relentless Strikes.

Curator, dead. Chess, checkmate. Prince, dead, despite the single most ridiculous Infernal placement possible. Ranged folks standing in doorway, tank with back to the right-hand side wall, a safe distance away from ranged folks. Infernal lands in between us, leaving JUST enough space to stand right against the wall and a quarter inch away from being Infernaled, and yet still in range of healing the tank and shooting/spelling the boss. I got a shiver standing there as I got enfeebled, only to discover that, yes, I was in a safe spot, even though the Infernal visual effect had me fully engulfed.

Both healers die with Prince at about 3%. Two big DPS'ers die at 2%. Amava's out of mana, and Fel Mana Pot on cooldown. Bloodlust Brooch and Auto-shot, FTW!!!!

Fresh Hunter gets Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix in her first ever Kara run. w00t.

19 minutes remain in our 3-hour schedule.

Visit the Shade of Aran, stuff a couple of his books down his throat and up his water elemental's ??? well? what does a water elemental have that you can shove stuff up? I dunno, but we found somethin'. Dead before the polymorph.

2 minutes remain in the schedule.

Outstanding job by everyone. Huge comeback after a really poor previous week. 15 Badges (think, new epic gem). First ever first night Prince kill. 3 brand new epic upgrades for our new Holy Priest (but, alas, no maiden shard, which must be pretty nice because all the priests seem to get all excited over it).

And I told the Happy Hunter, if I catch you without a scope on that puppy, I'm gonna hang you from the trees in Skettis by your underpants and let the Monsterous Kaliri have their way with you.

I return to the Isle of Quel'Burnout

Fun little experience the other day.

When Patch 2.4 and the Isle of Quel'Danas rolled our way, I was all over it. Starting with two quests in Phase 1 and the total chaos that was all the other players, as well as all the mobs right on top of your entry point. Combat all over the place.

Server progresses to the next phase. The battle lines push back a little bit, a few new quests open up.

Doing my dailies daily, doing my part for the cause.

Another phase opens up, now lots of dailies. Still doing them daily, and enjoying seeing the battlefront get pushed even further back.

The daily experience is gettin' old by this point, so I back off, just making sure I do the one that's aimed at opening up the new Badge vendor, and if it suited my fancy, I'd do some of the others.

Ding exalted. Ding new Badge vendor available. Ding 150 badges. Ding new Crossbow.

Ding Amava never setting foot in the Isle again.

At least for a while. Or when hitting up Heroic MrT. But that's a summon straight to the stone, thus no sight seeing.

I was qq'ing over vent after a raid about the challenges of remaining hit capped while using lots of Pre-Season 3 PvP gear.

Somebody was standing at the Gem vendor on the Isle at the moment, and he linked in a phat gem that provides +5agi / +5hit. Woah???? I did a double take. That is a really fine gem you've got there. I love the balance between the stats and the little extra bling over gems that're more readily available.

Sitting pretty on 15 badges at that time, and also sitting 4 hit rating below the hit cap when well fed, I scooted on over to the Isle of Quel'Burnout.

Ok, so where's this gem vendor i'm hearing so much about?

Look on the mini map, teammate's standing there, home in on his position.

Ok. Wait, isn't that the danger zone? That little pavillion thingie, there's lots of bad guys over there that respawn quicker than an 18 year old's libido.

No, its safe.

Really? Oh yeah. Last time I was here was early phase 3. Seems we've kicked some ass and pushed the front lines a little further. Nicely done.

So just my 2 cents on enjoying being part of, and then sort of not a part of, a server wide event. Nicely done, I enjoyed it.

Now gimme my gems!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

...and just in time

My team breaks 1500. I write yet another post about gear accessiblity. Then they announce Season 4 is 2 weeks away.


The nice thing is that I need 1 more week's worth of points before I can afford a Season 3 upgrade, so the timing is perfect, I guess.

And here is when I go crosseyed at all the possible ways to spend my points and the various implications on my gear.

I currently wear the S1 helm and chest as part of my raiding kit. Also, I wear the Vindicator's belt, boots, ring, and bracers for PvE. Well, and the S3 axe, but it doesn't look like the 2h weapon gets upgraded in S4, or so I think.

So, I can replace one of those with an S3 upgrade. The S3 pieces come with +hit. I currently sit 19 points below hit cap, and I eat Spicy Hot Talbuk during raids. Getting S3 +hit gear would bring me close enough that it might be worth while to examine each gem slot I have and try to replace all the reds and yellows with the nice +hit/+agi epic gems craftable from SSO jewelcrafting recipe I bought for my Guild JC.

I'm not sure, but it looks like the set bonus for Gladiator and Vengeful Gladiator don't overlap, so going 1 piece S1 and 1 piece S3 would not give the +35 resil bonus. So going this route might be a PvE upgrade only. Obviously, I'll test this out first chance I get, but for now, I'm assuming the seasons don't stack.

In parallel, I'd be able to grind out S2 helm and chest for BG honor to use in my PvP set.

The other option would be to get the S4 gloves, which will not have any team rating requirement, so I'd be able to buy them right away. For my PvP set, I currently wear the Blue PvP gloves sold by one of the Outlands faction vendors. I still have the legs and shoulders from that set, so I'd retain the +35 resil two piece bonus. This would largely be a PvP only upgrade, and unless I can find another piece with a blue gem socket, I'm going to keep raiding in my Gloves of Dexterous Manipulation.

So the jury is looking like its going to vote towards replacing either S1 helm or chest with its S3 equivalent, largely only to be equipped in PvE. Would be nice because then the piece that gets upgraded and retained only for PvP will then get socketed and enchanted purely with PvP stats, rather than the raiding stats its got today.

Then you move on from the Arena, kinda, and into the Battlegrounds. Seems that Season 4 non-set items will be purchasable for BG Honor: boots, ring, bracers, belt, necklace, trinket.

These are the slots that Vindicator's currently sits in. So will there be a new name in the line of Veteran's (S1 non-set items), Vindicator's (S3 non-set items), _____________ (S4 non-set items), with the Veteran's stuff getting pulled off the shelves. I think _____________ will actually be "Guardian's" but I can't confirm that right now. I like being vindictive more than being a guardian. Snap.


I put in lots of time grinding out the 4 Vindicator's pieces I wear. Re-grinding out upgrades in those slots will get old in a hurry, but then again, there's a part of me that just cannot rest while I know there's perfectly accessible upgrades sitting there.

And of course, it seems the boots will require 1700 rating. Ring 1650. Bracers 1575. Belt, Neck, and Trinket have no arena rating requirement. So maybe I'll only have to grind out belt, neck, trinket, and MAYBE bracers. Man, add to that the two S2 pieces from earlier, I'm gonna be BG'ing till my eyes fall out.

Is Season 4 causing you similar gearing issues?

Gear Accessiblity in WotLK

As a player who joined WoW pretty late in the life cycle, approaching my one year anniversary, I have substantially more gear options in the end game than players who were in the game when TBC came out.

Correction, as of right now, we all have the same gear access to non-boss drop gear (ie, badges, reputation, arena, bg) as one another. The difference being that I have access to that gear early in my raiding career, and players with a longer tenure are getting access later in their raiding career.

So that leaves me having cleared only 10/11 (if my mental math serves correctly) of Karazhan and 2 of the ZA bosses, and yet, the WoW Armory "find upgrades" feature shows me that I should not be expecting ANY real upgrades to gear until I hit Black Temple, with the T5 2-piece bonus being pretty much the only thing that I'm itchy for between where I'm at now and BT. And one more Badge of Justice piece which is a marginal upgrade at best, only if I want to fiddle around with Haste rating.

Besides in-place upgrades to PvP awards I raid with (ie, replace S1 helm and chest with S3), my only real gear goals are to epic out all of my gems, and build a PvP-only set, because its pretty much guaranteed that unless something magical happens, Amava ain't gonna set foot in Black Temple. Recent events have me believing magic is not in the air, so BG here I come.

People at my same boss progression a year ago had very few other gear options besides the boss drops. The occasional reputation piece. Probably a much bigger interest in Leatherworking Ebon Netherscale gear. Having not been there, I'm not sure what loot was available from BG, but me thinks it was not as fancy as what's out there now. If the G'eras BoJ vendor in Shatt was around yet or not, I don't know, but I do know that badges were much less accessible, so a person might get one or two badge pieces and that's it. Then bosses started spewing forth badges like crazy and everybody can deck themselves out in some fine stuff.

So if you look at it, Blizzard opened up the gear options over time. Gradually giving access to more and more powerful gear.

You even see them saying recently that they're waiting to start Season 4 until what they consider to be a sufficient number of guilds have beaten the Sunwell Plateau.

Some folks say there's no rhyme or reason to how Blizzard does it, and they think the gear access has been a chaotic reactionary string of moves to balance PvP and PvE.

Nah. Give them some credit, they're a pretty bright bunch. They've been carefully ushering us through content and gear all along. And its only now that we're near the end of TBC that they've opened up some of the best gear possible to the stuck-in-Karazhan masses.

Should we expect the same thing in WotLK?

I'm suspecting yes.

You'll start off with some basic gear available through PvP. At first that gear will be mostly useful to PvP only. Then over time, the BG gear will get better and have stats more applicable to PvE.

You'll also start off with some basic Badge gear. The first set of gear available will be equivalent to what you can get out of the first two raid dungeons. But, at first, badges will be pretty scarce, so you won't be getting tons and tons of them, perhaps only a piece or two.

Over time, the badges will drop from more locations and be more plentiful. Once enough of the population has most of the badge stuff, they'll open up some more badge loot.

You'll see some entry level reputation gear and crafting gear, just like in TBC. That gear will be equivalent to stuff you can get from the first raid or two. Over time, a random faction vendor will get some nice gear or crafting recipes to help push people along.

Supposedly, the badges in WotLK will be tier based, meaning you'd need badges that drop from Black Temple to buy BT quality BoJ items. Meh. That would be OK if they make that vendor accessible immediately upon release.

If it stays that way forever, I think they lose a big part of what makes Badges a good thing for anybody besides the most powerful guilds.

My biggest question is whether Blizzard feels they've been successful with how they slowly released gear to us. Personally, its been great and has kept me hugely interested in the game. However, now that I'm pretty near a dead end gear wise, there's potential for apathy. There's quite a bit of content between where I'm at and when I'll be excited for loot.

The only thing I'd add to the mix would be to give us tools to more easily organize raids. Once they've given us access to the gear, getting the team together is the only barrier left.

We shall see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mmmmm, above average

The number of the day is 1517, cuz that's my new 2v2 Arena rating.

All you PvP junkies who think that sux, well, go stuff it. I'm proud.

We went 8-2 for the week and popped above 1500, and also now have an overall winning record (by one match, mind you) for Season 3.

All I can say is I'm amazed at how hard its been for us. That really surprised me.

At first, we had no resil, so death was to be expected.

To increase resilience, we had to hit BG's. Lots of BG's. Along the way, you learn at least the basics of PvP, understanding your general strengths and learning a variety of tricks that the various enemy classes will throw your way. You run into enough 1-on-1 encounters in BG's to get a basic feel for how to handle yourself.

Bring some resil back to arenas, become a little more survivable, maybe moving from 1200's to 1300's.

Getting both team members to grind out the Medallion of the Alliance trinket, that alone probably boosted us from 1300's to 1400's.

And from there its been getting a handle of the basics of trying to control the pace of the fight and coordinate our efforts, as opposed to being two individuals acting independently.

But I'm still amazed at how much harder its been than I expected. Sure we're both PvE at heart and in spec.

Is the challenge, and inconsistency from week to week due to the queueing and ranking system?

Have we just been getting spanked by substantially better players who re-roll teams and start their rating off at 1500?

Of our 8 wins this week, 2 were total cake walks. Clearly the other teams were just starting out PvP and were steadily on their way down to 1200. The remaining 6 wins were actually pretty good matches, with some solid strategy, coordinated actions and reactions, and good communication. A few of the matches came down to only a few hundred health left on the one surviving player. Of the two losses, one was a royal beat down. They bursted me for 15,000 damage in 3 seconds. My nearly 11,000 health had issue with that. The other loss was a well balanced, close match.

So what gives with the arena matching system? I'm fully expecting to now be in a new bracket of teams, and if we eek out a single victory from the above-1500 club, I'll be happy for the week.

Undivided Attention

We all play WoW too much. I feel pretty confident saying that. You might feel differently about your own personal situation, so go ahead, try to change my mind. Good Luck! You're reading a blog about WoW, and a relatively obscure one at that, which means you've probably got lots of others on your reading list. Unless you aren't into WoW at all, you just love my style and unbelievable witty commentary. You play a lot of WoW.

Relax. I'm not judging. I love playing also.

I'm the type of person who latches onto a hobby or interest. Becomes hugely involved, borderline obsessive, tries to learn everything possible, master it to great depth. Then at some point, my interest sorta floats on by and finds something else.

WoW is no different. Flavor of the month. Well, flavor of a couple years typically, but whatever.

But, WoW is different. Different than any hobby, passtime, or passing interest that I've ever had.

Its the undivided attention that WoW requires.

Whether it be 40, 25, 15, 10, or 5 people in a large raid, small raid, battle ground, instance group, -or- just you and one other person moving through some quests. There's an inherent social burden that requires undivided attention.

Undivided attention. In quantities unlike any other hobby I can think of. So I set off on a mental safari to find any other hobbies I've had over the course of my life, and see if any others required this much undivided attention.

To begin, I'll need you to stipulate that WoW is not your real life. Unless you're some rich oil tycoon's kid who really has nothing to do ever in life besides pass the time, you've got a job, or go to school, or care for a household, or something else Real Life-ish that I haven't thought of. Although we might be passionate about WoW and value the friendships and experiences in the game, its still not RL. If you're not able to stipulate this one basic assumption, well, you'll probably be more bored than the rest of the readers.

So I was trying to think of any other non-RL activity in my life that came close to the amount of undivided attention that WoW requires.

The first thing I came up with was Jr. High and High School sports. Well, scholastic extra-curricular activities are arguably a fundamental part of RL, but the basic requirement for being roughly age 14-18 in the US is that you go to school, and then you get to choose if you want to engage in sports above and beyond the minimum requirements, so I'm including it in my little thought experiement here. For your average sport, you practice 4 or 5 days a week, for about 2-2.5 hours each. Then you add in raids games or meets or matches once or twice a week for an additional 3 hours or so each. During either practices or games, you were generally considered to be unavailable for any other activities.

I was a volunteer fire fighter for 8 years. The department I was in was very busy and maintaining the minimum level of participation generally required 25 hours per week. Again, it can be argued that being a fire fighter is not a hobby, but it wasn't something I did to put food on my table, it was something I did for self-actualization, thus I'll include it. Most of the time spent was unscheduled, and you'd respond to the radio scanner calling you to action. Depending upon the nature of the call, you might be gone for 30 minutes to an hour, with the occasional big boy that took several hours. There were also monthly meetings for a couple hours, and one night a week that was 3 hours of training. During either live calls or training drills you were generally considered to be unavailable for any other activities.

While mentally exploring, I thought up several other hobbies I've had over the years that come close to rivaling WoW, HS Sports, and Fire Fighting in terms of time spent per week. But these three are the only ones that shared the concept of very large blocks of undivided attention, where the rest of the world gets pushed aside and you become engrossed in the activity.

The difference is that all of those activities were interruptable. Either a pause button that'll stop those relentless blocks from falling down in a game of Tetris, or a book that you can put a bookmark in and set down, or a soldering iron that will heat up again should you need to turn it off and take care of something else. No doubt, any hobby worth pouring passion into will have times where you don't want distractions. But WoW takes it to a new level.

A recent interaction on my Horde Druid brought this concept to the foreground. She's the only "main" toon being levelled in her guild. Everyone else is 70, with a levelling alt or two, but they're played rarely. Nice thing is that the 70's are all offering lots and lots of help to assist with my levelling. Sometimes I take it, such as some boosting runs through RFC. But most of the time, I stick with solo levelling, to avoid the feeling of wanting to be totally in-game and uninterruptable.

The other day, a friend from RL who plays one of the 70's asked if I needed any help. I passed because I watching my kid at the time, which means that she's playing with her toys next to me on the table or playing in her little tent behind me, and I'm AFK half the time playing with her or just watching her play independently. He said he was just sitting in Orgrimmar farting around, so would be no different for him to be helping me out in Ashenvale while I went afk regularly.

I still passed on the offer. Its not like he was being imposing in any way. In fact, I know the guy and he's totally patient and fun and would really have no problem with down time while I was coming and going.

But the problem lies with me. Regardless of how much he didn't mind my afk-ism, I would be feeling a burden. A burden to not waste his time. If I took up his offer, I'd end up neglecting the dishes, the laundry, the dog, the kid. The important stuff. And I'd end up hating the game. I said as much over guild chat where this conversation was occurring. The response was a resounding agreement. Seems the general consensus is that WoW comes with lots of social burden that can cause stress.

So what do you think? What other hobbies, interests, pursuits do you have that require the vast amounts of undivided attention that WoW does?

And if you're that oil tycoon's kid, tell daddy to stop charging me $4.15 a gallon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pulling Aggro

I got issues. Anybody who knows me or reads my stuff knows this.

But I got one in particular for which maybe there's an answer. Maybe you know it. Maybe you'll share it with me.

As a non-tank, pulling aggro sux. I try to avoid it. No big surprise there.

Why I write this, though, is that its happened to me three times recently. And I need your help figuring out why.

Some background....

I feign death proactively during Boss fights (and trash, but w/e). That is to say, I don't wait until I've pulled aggro, but rather, I FD just about whenever the cooldown is up.

Given the dramatic disparity between my two raid tanks' ability to generate threat and my own, the initial parts (a minute, a minute and a half) of a boss fight are dicey.

Naturally, I open up with a Misdirect. I generally go Aimed, Arcane, Auto for the 3 misdirected shots.

Then I fly on auto-shot for a little bit. If I had at least two crits during the Misdirect, or if there's a second Hunter throwing a Misdirect on after mine, I can go 1:1 Steady:Auto for a little while.

Doing this, I'm up my tank's butt in about 6 or 7 seconds, so I nail my first FD.

In the ensuing 30 seconds of FD cooldown, I generally start off with 1:1 Steady:Auto. And I need to get Bestial Wrath, Bloodlust Brooch, and Drums of War/Battle going, so their cooldowns will be ticking and ready for reuse later in the fight. Before Bestial Wrath is up, probably 15 seconds into it, I normally have to go Auto-only, and perhaps even just stop firing all together, because I'm tailgating the main tank pretty closely by this point.

Second FD. Generally somewhere around 40 seconds into the boss fight.

During this next 30 seconds of the boss fight, I go balls wild with the 1:1 rotation. During this stint, its usually near the end of the 30 seconds that I'm switching to Auto-only, but even at this point in the fight, I'm still pretty threat-bound and FD-cooldown bound.

Third FD, Generally somewhere around the 1:10 mark of the fight. Now its mostly free sailing, hitting FD pretty much as the cooldown is up, but not staring at it, trying to burn a hole through my FD button with my eyes like during the first minute or minute and a half of the fight.

Heaven forbid one of these first three FD's resist, then I just stand there and twiddle my thums regenerating mana doing nothing but allowing Condoleezza gore the hell out of the boss and Commanding her to Kill should I actually get a chance to fire and crit.

So the problem.....

The problem is that three different times over the past 2 weeks, I pulled aggro. Nightbane. Prince. Nalorakk.

And I don't know why.

My eyes are pretty much glued to my Omen window. Like a hawk during the initial stage of a fight. Attention shared 49% Omen, 49% FD Cooldown, and 2% rest of what's going on. Later in the fight, when there's more cooldowns to manage (Hunter's Mark, Fel Mana Potion, Bestial Wrath, Bloodlust Brooch, Drums, Feign Death, Misdirection), my attention is a little more spread out, but I also have a much bigger threat buffer to make up for it.

First unexpected time that I pulled aggro was on the Prince. We're chugging right along like normal. Beginning of fight goes fine. No resists. No aggro.

I keep my Omen window sized such that only the top 5 people on the threat list are showing. I recently did a FD, so I was nowhere to be seen on Omen.

Next thing I know, Target of Target shows AMAVA and Prince runs at me and squish, enfeeble main tank, wipe raid.

One person claims to have seen me on top of the threat meter during this. The rest of the people who were looking at Omen did not see Amava near the top.


Different day. Different computer. Different version of Omen.

Nightbane. Mid-way through the second ground phase of the fight, well past any aggro resets associated with phase transitions, within 5 seconds. 5. f'ing. seconds. of a non-resisted FD, I pull aggro and get spanked. Tank had tons of threat advantage over me. Tank got feared. During the fear, I did get a few crits in a row, so it is possible I blasted out substantial burst of threat, but again, on my Omen, I was not appearing in the top 5 most hated players. 5 f'ing seconds after a FD.

Perhaps an aggro reset when he casts fear? Perhaps my burst was bigger than I thought? I dunno, but this is getting old.

None of the other raiders noticed Amava on top of Omen, but then again, none of them also reports having been looking at Omen at that moment.

Yet a different day. Same Computer as Nightbane. Different version of Omen.

Nalorakk. Late in the fight. Tanks have giant threat buffer. I've been proactively FD'ing through the entire fight up to this point. Admittedly, when the sht hit the fan, I noticed FD was not on cooldown, so I did miss an opportunity to reset my threat. My bad. But. But. But.

I was staring at Omen at this point. S.T.A.R.I.N.G. In fact, my Warlock buddy was exceeding the tanks by 10% at this point, so I was moments from chiming in on voice for him to watch it. Sure, you don't pull aggro until 130% when at proper range, but we all generally try to stay below 100% to protect from this bursty maddness.

Top 5 threat table members are Warlock, Warrior, Warrior, Mage, Rogue. Big big gap between position 4 and 5, which means that Amava wasn't lurking just a smidge below the tanks, but still off the radar due to a closely packed top-5 hated group. So Omen is telling me I've got nothing to worry about.

Also, not closely associated with any phase transition, so no suspected aggro resets are in effect.

And this was not his charge attack he randomly does to raid members. This was a bona fide aggro pull and turning a Hunter into peanut butter and jelly.

Once again, mixed reports from other raid members looking at Omen. One says I was way over the top with aggro. Others saw me way down low on the threat list.

Is Omen busted? Are there aggro resets or other such nonsense I'm unaware of? Am I just stupid? WTF?

I Can NOT Haz Mail

In a recent post, I celebrated Amava's graduation from armor downgrader to Mail Encrusted Hunter, having replaced my last two leather items with a badge mail upgrade to legs and a T4 upgrade to gloves.

Happy times.

Fast forward a few days. Before logging out, I take a gander at my gear to make sure I look all prim and proper. You know Outfitter is a silly goose and sometimes it decides to leave my Riding Crop on when I dismount, or other such poppycock, and of late, I'm paying closer attention to my Armory profile than normal.

Looking at the tooltip for each of my gear items, I hover on the helm. Ok, meta gem, check. Other gem, check. Glyph of Ferocity, check.

But, why does the Meta Gem look funny? Its the right stats, +12agi and +3% crit damage.

Why's it greyed out?

DOH. The gem requires 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 blue.

Sprint on over to the Aldor Bank and look at the two Leather pieces I recently doffed, and I discover that each one has a blue gem slot.

Arrgh. Double Arrgh.

Comparing overall stats between Leather Gloves and Mail Gloves, taking into account the Meta Gem, Leather wins.

So Amava is now the Leather Queen, ready to walk the cat walk and strut her leather clad hands for all to see.

Do you call the raid before it even starts?

Zul'Aman. Not for the ill of heart, or for the blue of gear.

Our two best geared and most experienced raiding healers were unavailable for the raid, so we went with a reasonable guild holy priest, reasonable friendly resto druid, and a pretty entry level guild holy priest.

Clear to Nalorakk. Do quite poorly. Once. Twice. Three times.

Ok, what's the deal. Seems like the healers are out of mana very quickly. I'm no expert on healing gear and such, but I figure I'll take a look see.

A quickie inspection of the entry level guild holy priest shows generally blue gear, with a couple PvP epics. This is expected, what with him being relatively entry level to raiding.

However, a wise man once said "expect the unexpected"....

1) Empty Meta Gem slot
2) Grand total of one (1) enchant
3) Riding Crop equipped
4) Medallion of the Alliance equipped

So I ask on voice if he's wearing his PvP set by accident.

No, these are the only two trinkets I have. I haven't really worked on this guy.


After ensuring my hand was no where near my mic activation button, a brief outburst of ranting the likes of which R. Lee Ermey the Gunny Sgt would approve of.

Clearly, this toon should not be raiding ZA. Barely even Kara. Just on principle.

Me and the GM discuss via whispers and after the raid, give a little pep talk about the benefits of enchants and other such gear enhancements.

So now I wonder how to deal with this going forward.

Do I inspect unknown/new-ish folks prior to the raid? Before invites?

If I make a stink and assert that a person is clearly unprepared, we would have been faced with calling the raid.

Would it have been better to not raid at all that night, than to struggle on Nalorakk but kill him eventually, and then struggle through the gauntlet but make it to the boss, and then wipe on Akil'zon until the scheduled end of the raid time?

Do I make the reason for not including a person in a raid public? To do so would reinforce to the other raiders how important ship shape gear is, but it also might publicly humiliate the person being singled out.

In the end, I wasn't sure if I was just in a generally cranky mood yesterday or if my anger was appropriate. Although I did share my thoughts on enchants with the team, I only shared my level of upset with the GM/RL, and he agrees we need to prevent this from occurring.

I've never minded wiping before, but knowing we were wiping while people were clearly leaving massive amounts of capability right there for the taking, probably my most frustrating raid to date. The guild needs to put steps in place to ensure that our wipes are because we're doing challenging content with well prepared people, not because we're doing things well within our grasp but we're just not doing the basics to achieve that.

The question is how do we make that happen?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Horde'ing Gold and Angst

While not raiding or raid prepping on Amava, I'm pretty much playing my lil Tauren Druid. Trying to level her curvy butt up quick like a bunny, but unfortunately, that's not one of the animal forms I can shapeshift into just yet. But hitting 20 brought kitty form and the joy that is two points in faster running speed, and that led pretty quickly to level 23.

So a round of some quick thoughts:

1) You know money is always forefront on my mind, and my little girl happily dinged 100g this morning while still level 22. I can't stress enough how much fun Herbalism/Mining is. Only pain is toggling the macro to swap between tracking modes. And always seeing shiny objects on the way to quest objectives, thus taking forever to get anywhere. But she can stealth and bypass many mobs, which is something Amava never could do.

2) Only charity I've accepted so far was a set of 4 large bags from a friend, which have been hugely and completely amazing. Bag space changes the game dramatically for any toon, but a dual gatherer especially. Also, picked up a few silvers during some boosting runs through RFC, but not enough to really affect the overall balance sheet.

3) At 21/22, I transitioned from Barrens to Ashenvale. (A) I've been through Ash thrice as alliance. Fun to be there as a bad guy. (B) There seems to be a gap in quests, as all I can find are level 24/25 quests in either of the two zones. So for most of level 21 I was doing level 24 quests and either taking forever between mobs or just getting my ass kicked. First time I can ever remember reaching 0% armor durability. That gave me a chuckle. But the 15 silver cost to repair was nice. Amava's bill would be about 45 gold for a 0% repair.

4) If I understand the tooltip correctly, I'll eventually get a Faerie Fire that I can cast while in Kitty mode? Please, pretty please, give me this sooner. When I cast FF on a mob, I kill it so fast it aint funny. But that requires I switch to caster form, do the FF, switch back to kitty which costs me mana and eliminates any energy I had (and I got no points in the talent that gives you energy when you shape shift. I want running speed too much to go there). If its castable from in cat form, FFF will be the shiz.

5) Oh, and I need to stop calling Horde Druid Cat form "kitty" because the lion just looks stupid with those horns. I like the Night Elf kitty more better.

6) And the most fun....the Guild she's in, Has Made A Huge Mistake, did their first Karazhan raid. Many of the raiders have been to Kara before, but not as a unit and not since the guild formed up a week or so ago. Very successful run, killing bosses up to Curator. Sadly, I was not there, but Thursday nights are Real Life nights. Oh yeah, and I'm only 23.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Actively Skipping Bosses

Optional Bosses.

Tough Bosses.

Optional, Tough Bosses who don't drop all that much lewtz that you group needs.

What do you do with them?

For the sake of progression, you want to skip them.

For the sake of completeness, you want to kill them.

Such is the question I posed to the raid the other day.

Our GM/RL has been calling our raids before we see Netherspite in Karazhan. We clear out everybody else, and we've done two nights of exploratory work with Netherspite.

Not liking the feeling of never knowing whether we'd be going for the big guy or not I pushed for a group decision.

If we're not going for Netherspite, that's ok. But please lets be open about it rather than passively just avoid the guy.

So it would seem the group thinks its better for us to skip him and devote more time to ZA.

I'm good to go with the group's decision, but there's a part of me that doesn't feel right leaving that stone unturned.

Its like when we were on a Heroic Mechanar spree. Clearing it in 50 minutes or so, night after night after night. Always saving the Fire B1tch for last. We allow ourselves one shot at her. Wipe, and go home.

But, then one beautiful time, we nailed her. And now it became attainable. Through improved gear, and fueled by a confidence that we can kill her, she's become yet another blip on our way to clearing through Mech super fast. Sometimes she gets the best of us, but in general, she's ours.

I sure would like to do the same with Netherspite.

Mmmm, Welfare

I recently posted about a possible form of welfare that's often overlooked in the ridiculous debate between hardcore/casual, raider/pvp jokers who hate seeing other folks get good stuff doing anything other than what any one individual defines as their preferred method of seeking out gear upgrades.

It all becomes rather silly when you get down to it, which is why I love getting down to it. Hopefully people realize that I, especially as a late-comer to WoW, don't think anything in the game is welfare, as I'm just here to play the game and have fun, hopefully surrounded by folks interested in the same. But I am intrigued by how ludicrous people become when discussing welfare.

In response to my posting, there were some well-stated comments reflecting various thoughts on the situation, so thank you all for getting involved.

Lacking anything else substantial to write about this morning (ok, so I have something I really want to write about, but I'm not ready to discuss it yet. ohhh, the mystery :-) perhaps I'll elaborate on what I think folks who are prone to cry WELFARE are really going after.

I think its really a concept that goes hand in hand with anybody who has been caught saying "I did XYZ....and that's before they nerfed it."

Basically, Blizzard changes the game over time. Lots of people feel insecure about their accomplishments and dislike it when other people are able to accomplish the same thing or even more advanced things, via techniques that were not or still are not accessible to the complainer. Hence, my tongue-in-cheek claim that somebody getting T-whatever drops out of a guild's farm content is welfare. Of course its not.

People who have been playing WoW since the beginning, and bought TBC on release day and sped their way to 70 and began raiding right away. I'll call those folks "Slaves of the Random Number Generator" or SotRNG. Its pronounced similar to "soldering" which is something a robot builder might do to melt lead, tin, and silver to make a nice electrical connection between two components. Yes, I had an even nerdier hobby before I took up WoW.

People beginning Kara a year ago had very few options for gearing up. Basically, there was one or two reputation items suitable for each class/spec, a few very nice crafting items, and I think that's about it.

The rest of your gear progression came from killing bosses and being a slave to their random drops. This means they had to grind out Kara, over and over and over, until the items they want drop.

And repeat that process for each dungeon you progress through. Raid ID's and time-based resets of dungeons throttle your progress along the way.

Net result, the general pace of moving through dungeons was slower, as compared to an equally skilled team starting kara a year later.

Fast forward a year-ish, and Blizzard has introduced many more options for getting some kick ass gear.

They added Badge of Justice drops off of raid bosses, making the BoJ gear much more accessible. And they added SSO BoJ vendor, and a whole nuther tier of loot to be had.

SSO faction comes with some pretty sweet reputation items.

Then the whole PvP situation. Powerful pieces available via doing well or poorly in Arena. Old season stuff available for BG honor. I'm not sure if Vindicator's was available from the beginning of TBC or not, but there's some lovely stuff there.

The beauty of BG epics has many faces. For one, no daily limit on how much honor or marks you can grind. So if you're crazy, which I become sometimes, you can grind away for an entire weekend and get a piece or two. No Raid ID reset forcing you to wait a week if a boss didn't drop your T4 gloves. Also, its a guaranteed thing. You can set your sights on a loot, and watch your very tangible progress towards that goal. In contrast, you could plow through Kara for weeks on end and never even see Big Bad Wolf. And when he finally does show up, what're the chances he's gonna drop your rifle? I've been raiding kara weekly for 4 months. I've seen BBW exactly three (3) times. Rifle has dropped one (1) time. Not that I need it, because I'm on welfare and have the sweet 150 Badge crossbow, but you get the point.

See, I'm on welfare. Four different types in that my raiding set of gear is made up of mostly Arena, BG, SSO Rep, and Badge loot.

Badges are lovely. I grind them out via Karazhan, Heroics, and the random SSO Package. Although I've retired many of them, my raiding kit has had 6 different badge pieces, three of which I still don. Not to mention an epic gem (+5 hit / +5 agi, FTW) that's both Badge Welfare and SSO Faction welfare (the raw gem and the recipe both being newly introduced into the game, and hence, welfare).

From Arenas, I'm only wearing one piece of S3, and it was true and unadultered welfare, by any stretch of the definition. I showed up in my first Arena match with zero. z.e.r.o. resilience. Got slaughtered decimated grab-ur-ankles beat down for 4 sessions of 30 minutes of agony over the course of one month. Got a sweet piece of ax. I'm right on the doorstep of getting a helmet upgrade from S1 to S3 which will be a nice boost, including some +hit. +hit from PvP loot. Welfare indeed.

My BG gear, Vindicator's and S1 Gladiator stuff, I wouldn't consider to be welfare. Grinding out the marks of honor and honor points you need for those items is tough. Some people AFK their way to honor points. I don't. I try my best, have a mix of fun and pain, and get the job done.

SSO rep. Puh-leeze. 2 weeks or so of painfully but diligently grinding out those daily quests. Ding Exalted. Ding sweet sweet necklace. Raiders from a year ago didn't have access to such loveliness.

So bottom line, any time somebody gains access to something in a way you didn't or still don't have access to. Just cry WELFARE. And if there's no clear welfare case involved, just claiming they nerfed it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


My lil stint with randomly cold calling players off of /who to locate a 10th player for a Karazhan raid the other night had me thinking.

Here we were, 9 people ready to play the game. Can't play without a 10th.

A boat-load of total blind luck, and a drop of assertive resourcefulness, ended up locating me that 10th player. And it worked out perfectly. This player and our group matched up on class, spec, relative gear level/progression, availability for the same three hours on all three nights of the raid week, maturity level, etc...

Blind luck prevailed and 10 players had a great time and a great raid for three nights over a week's time in two different dungeons. Couldn't have worked out better. Well, would be better if she could join our guild, but apparently "that's complicated". /crossfingers

So that got me to thinking about how much of this sort of thing is out there. Groups of players who all have the basic fundamental building blocks to form a compatible raid, but who have never happened to locate one another.

As this one example I provide shows, the concept is out there. And on any given raid night, if we're struggling to find a player, it makes me wonder what Blizzard could be doing to help with this situation.

When looking for a player, we typically go thusly:
1) Look in the guild first.
2) Look on friends lists.
3) Enter into LFM tool
4) /who for classes and Armory for spec, followed by blind whispers
5) Spamming /general in Shatt City or Deadwind Pass

Numbers 1 and 2 are ideal, as the players on those two lists are already known quantities. We wouldn't have you in our guild or on our friends list if you didn't match up with our team at a basic level.

Numbers 3,4,5 all suck.


Blizzard needs to contract out to eHarmony.com to implement a new match making system. This should be usable for a long-term search, such as finding a Guild for yourself or finding new recruits for your guild, and it should be usable for short-term searches like a LFM tool.

You answer a whole stack of questions about yourself and they have these funky algorithms that match you up with players that they think you are compatible with.

The questions can cover the basics like class and spec, number of raiding nights/hours you are interested in, what nights you are available. Then they would get into the personality profile type questions to match players up on how likely they are to enjoy playing together. And they could try to understand how you react to different game situations (out-of-game research, thoughts about loot, how you react to wipes, etc).

The basic idea is that there's lots of great players out there, but its not easy to find them. It is easy to find players, but its not easy to finds ones that match up to form a successful bunch of friends and raiders.

In the end, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks Blizzard LIKES it when we can't field a team. That's one more week that we aren't gobbling up their content and one more week slapped onto the end of our subscriptions. So I'm doubtful we'll ever see something implemented to fix the situation. But the optimist in me remains hopeful.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Glider and the Rising Cost of Gas

If you play WoW and/or read a WoW blog as obscure as mine, there's a good chance you've heard of Glider, the automation program that can play your character for you while you sleep, cook, bump uglies, whatever.

I'm not really here to pick sides, probably because I'm kinda on the fence also.

On the one hand, Blizzard says Glider hurts them financially because they think that Glider makes the game less enjoyable for non-Glider users, since people who do automated farming while they sleep will have lots of gold and other such goodies when they wake up, while the other poor schlumps have to grind that out manually. Or in BG's, an afk Glider player contributes very little to his/her team, so the non-Gliders would suffer because their team would be short by some players. Also, Glider would supposedly allow its users to burn through the content faster since they're not wasting time on the mindless activities, but rather only spending their game time on the activities they find entertaining.

On the other hand, by constructing a game that forces you to do boring mindless stuff that wastes time, all in an effort to be able to do the fun stuff, Blizz has kinda created the market for products like Glider. While not a user myself, I can appreciate the mindset of someone who wants to raid but doesn't have the time to do all the support activities required.

Like I said, I'm on the fence and can understand the motivation on both sides.

But a funny idea popped into my head when thinking of Blizzard's position in the matter.

An analogy....

I drive a car. That car requires gasoline to operate.

I use products and perform maintenance such as fuel injector cleaners, properly balanced and aligned wheels, clean air filters, etc.

Each of those things helps to improve my fuel efficiency, resulting in me purchasing less gas for the same amount of driving.

Should the gas companies put in place an agreement with their customers that they won't use any fuel efficiency improvements because that hurts their financial position?

Maybe car poolers (read: account sharing) should be banned from purchasing gas.

Or, heaven forbid I ride the train into work. That would be akin to getting my hands on a copy of Blizzards SERVER source code and running my own stand-alone WoW in my basement, thus requiring zero monthly fees (*)

The gas companies should be demanding the local Transit Authority to provide names of anybody who bought a train or bus ticket, and ban them.

(*) Disclaimer: dont try to get a copy of Blizzard's source code. That would be naughty.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Daily Routine

In a post regarding her return from 25-person raiding to semi-solo WoW, Valdesta discusses some of the solo type activities that are enjoyable. Daily quests fall into that cagetory, yes?

Bottom line: there's too many Daily Quests. I had a few days off from work a little while ago, and started out each day doing dailies. Next thing you know, its time for your 9:00pm raid and you have done barely anything besides daily quests.

Sitting pretty at 13k-ish gold, I'm done doing the dailies as a chore. So after my second day of getting nauseated with myself for grinding out daily quests for no real reason, I said NO MAS.

But, being a creature of habit, I do enjoy a little daily routine.

So, my not quite so daily quests, chosen largely because they're the ones I sort of enjoy in some strange repeatable way....

Start in Shattrath City. Pickup Cooking, Gathering, Nagrand Fireball Measuring, Sunfury Attack Plans, and Mana Cells.

If Cooking is the chicken wing one, fly out to Skettis and also bomb some eggs while there. Return to Shattrath City.

If Cooking is Nagrand Soup one, fly out to Spirit Fields and do skinning, fireball measuring, and cooking. Return to Shattrath City.

If Cooking is Demon Broiled Surprise, stop by the Aldor bank where there's always a stack of Crunchy Serpent and Mok'nathal Ribs handy.

Fly up to Blade's Edge. I used to do all of the Ogri'la quests. I despise the wrangling one, so I don't do it. I despise the 15 demons / portal thingie, so I don't do it. Simon Says is easy money, but I'm out of the money loop. Get a load of this. Here's how you know you need to hide behind a wall of anonymous alts. Why do I hate Simon Says? Because in the 2 minutes of concentration that the quest requires, I get about 20 whispers that all just annoy the crap out of me and sometimes blow my concentration and cause me to restart the stupid quest. Usually on the last sequence of 8 lights. Stop bugging me, folks.

But I digress. Back to daily circuit. Bomb the Ogri'la ammo stacks in the southern forge camp. I pretend I'm Maverick in Top Gun (lol, he was a fighter pilot, this is a ground attack mission, but whatever, its my fantasy). Unfortunately, Kelly McGillis does little for me, so that's where the fantasy ends, although that bathroom counter has left me intrigued since I was a little kid seeing the movie for the first time.

If cooking quest is the demon broiled surprise, I complete that over here.

Then on up to the Mana Cells / Phase Inverter thingie. Depending upon time of day, this one goes really quick. Occasional ninjas as Condoleezza occupies all the worms in an area, but I suppose that comes with the job.

Fly on over to the south-western most Mana Forge in Netherstorm. Kill stuff. Only once has the Sunfury Attack Plans been a real bear for me. Usually the first 10 kills does the trick. To keep it interesting, I try to pull 5 or 6 Blood Elves at a time. It gets pretty hairy when one of those patrolling robotic sentries shows up near the beginning of a large mob pull, but whatever. Keeps it from becoming dull.

If Cooking is smurf berries, go pick them and skin the crap out of the mobs nearby to get leathers for profit and nether residues for gathering quest. But don't go crazy trying to complete the gathering quest, because chances are, you'll be headed out to Nagrand later in your daily routine.

Depending on my mood and current inventory level of Kibler's Bits, I head on over to Hellfire Peninsula and do the two SSO quests there. Mileage varies on completion speed here. If the elementals near the quest giver are alive when I get there, I'm done in less than 4 minutes with the two quests. If they're not alive, I usually abandon the quests, as I'm here for fun and a slight semblance of routine, and not a boring monotany like reading Amava's blog dental surgery.

On the way out of Hellfire, I kill all the buzzards that're just south of the Alliance Temple in the west part of the zone. Gotta keep my pets strong like bull.

Back to Shatt City to turn in the sunfury and mana cells.

If (A) cooking is not Nagrand Soup (in which case I would have already completed it at beginning of routine) -AND- (B) I have not stumbled upon all 8 gatherable Nether Residues along my travels, I head out to measure fireballs in Nagrand and grind Clefthoofs en masse.

Best case, I complete 7 dailies in about 45 minutes. Worst case seems to be about 1.5 hours for all 7 plus some buzzard farming, largely variant on drop rates and forgetting to do a quest before flying on to the next one (manaberries is notorius for being forgotten before flying away from Netherstorm).

I used to also do the daily Fishing quest. Then I dinged 375 fishing. I still did it every day. Then the World's Largest Mudfish took me, and I sht you not, 7 Aquadynamic Fish Attractors. That's right. 70 minutes trying to complete a single daily quest. I haven't been able to sit right since. And I haven't touched a fishing pole since either.

I used to do all the SSO dailies. Then I dinged Exalted. I kept doing them every day. Then the server opened up another and another and another phase with more and more quests each time. I vomited. I haven't been back to the Isle other than for Heroic MgT or the Badge Vendor since.

So there you have it. My daily routine.

And if I'm on a BG kick, I don't do any of this, I just head on over to Stormwind City and play "cap the node/gy/tower/flag" until my eyes bleed.

Welfare, not just for PvP'ers

Strange feelings wash over me as I follow along with the BRK / AC / Ratshag / Ego saga.

In the recent-ish installments of the story, you've basically got a player who, through hugely colorful personality and a very unique style, caught the eye of a pretty advanced raiding guild, although they'll swear they're casual. lol. Then the player rolled a brand new toon with that guild, did a great job zipping on up to 70, and only a short while later, is downing boss after boss after boss, donning T4 and if not yet, then I'm sure its soon to follow, T-(insert tier number most folks wont ever see) gear and is now heading on into Mount Hyjal for some progression runs.

You tell me...welfare? or no?

Did it take hard work to get his toon to 70 and grind out all the proper reps and gold and other assorted things necessary to be a successful raider? No doubt.

Did he, and everybody else involved, tell an interesting and creative story via their blogs along the way? You bet. I've enjoyed reading every bit of it. They form the heart of the WoW community I read every day, and hope to hear more as the story unfolds.

But it surprises me that people cry WELFARE over epics available through Arena or BG, but nobody looks at this scenario and considers it the same thing. At least not that I've seen.

Am I jealous? A drop. Their's is a story of what seems to be a good bunch of respectable people who all approach the game with a similar zest and level of determination, and also have a talent for sharing their thoughts and experiences with their reading audience. If given a chance to do the same thing, would I take it? More than likely. And if I happen to be in a dungeon, whether on farm or progression, and epics drop that would be upgrades for me and nobody else wants, do I grab 'em? Oh, yeah!

As much fun as it is progressing "the hard way" through bosses, wouldn't it be more fun to experience more of the game, and still get to have that progression feeling, just in Mount Hyjal rather than in Kara and ZA. Truth be told, finding the right leaders and players to enjoy the game with in a 25-man setting is more jealousy-worthy than the actual content is. I'll tip my Gladiator's Chain Helm to anybody who's able to find that type of environment.

So who is a bigger recipient of welfare? The guy who shows up to 10 arena matches a week for a month and gets a sweet axe? Or the guy who finds the right group of friends, and gets run through farm content that's more advanced than most guilds will ever see, and gets access to every epic drop along the way?

Not that welfare is a bad thing. I'm on it too, a different kind.

I'm just sayin'

RL WoW, except you don't kill stuff

Spent a little time Geocaching this weekend.

If you're not familiar with the concept, people hide little boxes of value-less trinkets (think happy meal toys with tracking numbers) in random locations and then post the Global Positioning System coordinates on a website. You download the coords and then try to locate the box using a hand held GPS navigator and a sense of adventure. Lots of fun, lots of variety, and a really nice way to get away from the computer and enjoy the outdoors with people you like. No PUGs in Geocaching :-)

And at the end of an afternoon of seeking out caches and hiking through all kinds of different terrain looking for little needles in a giant haystack of wilderness, all I could think was that this is just like Real Life WoW, luckily without the combat.

You start off hitting the geocaching website and looking on the map for an area you'd like to explore. Its like picking the next zone you want to quest in.

From there, you pick the individual caches you'd like to visit, that were put there by other cachers, ie the NPCs.

If you're interested, all the previous visitors to the cache have the option of posting comments to the website on what was notable about finding this specific cache. It's just like a wowhead or thottbot page for the quest, only on the nice side, you rarely get the trolls who post nothing besides "u r noob suxorz. l2p, i solo'ed at spec'd holy".

Now, pack your bags with goodies like water, flashlights, extra socks, first aid kit, granola bars, a pad and pencil, extra batteries, insect repellent, sun screen, Fel Mana Potions, and your GPS doodad. Hmmm, feels a lot like getting ready for a raid.

And if you're smart, you'll do a little research on what the weather and terrain is like, and whether you should pack your parka and winter hats (aka, frost resist gear) or your thick pants to protect against thorns and poison ivy (nature resist). Or if you like wiping (swabs of calamine lotion), go in blind and see what's in store for you.

Now head off in your car (gryphon) to the general vicinity of the cache (quest objective).

From there, examine the terrain and hike in to the more specific location. You could travel on horseback, but I don't have a horse because I don't have the gold for an epic mount IRL.

Here's where I really started to think of WoW, and a change to herbalism in a not-so-recent patch.

As you get closer and closer, the inaccuracy of the GPS unit becomes aparent. Depending on your handheld unit's specs, these little puppies are accurate to about 3 meters in perfect conditions, and degrade considerable under the canopy of leaves above your head in a forest. As you get right near your destination, your range readings might jump by 20 yards with each passing step. Your directional indicator might wildly sway all over the place, even while you just stand motionless.

Now its up to you to more or less put the GPS down and begin to scour the immediate area, perhaps only using the GPS around the periphery of the area to see if you get a consistent general indication of an epicenter to focus on.

This completely reminded me of herbalism in WoW before a patch, perhaps 2.3. With the patch, they made all herb-able nodes sparkle so as to stand out visually and be easy to find.

Prior to that patch, you'd see the node on your mini map so you knew there was a nice treat waiting for you, but sometimes, it was just a royal pain to find the herb against the background of other plants and environmental elements. I remember Sungrass sometimes being the hardest thing to find, even though you KNEW it was there from Track Herbs.

In geocaching, depending upon what the NPC who created it decided to use, sometimes you're searching for a black film canister in a patch of woods 20 feet across. Or a .50 cal Ammo crate, completely burried out of sight under a stump. Just like the good old days of herbalism before the sparkles.

So you search high and low and reach your hands into all sorts of poison ivy and insect infested cracks in the rocks, and finally you locate your quest item. Depending upon the size of the cache, there will be all sorts of goodies stashed in there. At a minimum, there's typically a log book or just a simple piece of paper that you leave your geocaching callsign on and mark the date and any other message you'd like to leave.

Sometimes there's little trinkets or McDonalds happy meal toys or key chains or whatever.

Here's where the WoW ninja thrives. You can choose to take all the stuff and keep it, because your life is just not complete without another $0.42 Lisa Simpson plastic figurine. Or you can take one item, and replace it with something else you brought, and write in the log book what you took/left, just for fun.

Then you re-hide the cache just like you found it and then head to your next quest/cache, or hearth home. Log back into the geocaching website, and get your XP in the form of seeing your personal tally for located caches increase and also your growing list of retrieved/placed goodies.

So for the fully immersive WoW experience, I highly recommend Geocaching in the morning and raiding in the evening.

I Can Haz Mail

So Amava has now left the world of armor downgrading, being fully encased in a layer of Mail armor, ready to show the mobs of the World of Warcraft which end of a Mysterious Arrow is the pointy one. I personally like being on the fletched end, tyvm.

Saunter on up to the Curator's Menagerie. Slaughter him in just about 2 minutes in our fastest time ever. Warlock crit'ed for 23k during an evocate, which is just plain old silly. We now have two players consistently exceeding 1000 DPS on many of the boss fights which is nice. Spread the love.

The Tiki God of Pseudo Random Numbers was kind enough to drop the T4 Glove token for Hunters, among other classes. Having passed on that puppy the 6 previous times I've seen it drop to help spread that DPS love, nobody else in the raid needed them, so I caved and took them.

Sort of a side-grade as compared to Gloves of Dexterous Manipulation, but they provide some extra MP5 which helps on longer boss fights. And they're MAIL!!!! Silly Hunter, leather's for Rouges <sic>.

Leaves me with one piece of leather left, my pants. The pants are getting kinda snug though, and I have to put them on with powder and lotion, a la Ross Geller. Mama needs a new pair of pants.

I've been eyeballing Leggings of the Pursuit since the badge vendor opened up. Having dumped 150 badges on my crossbow, I've been slowly clawing my way up to 100 for the pants.

Been sitting at 98 badges for a week-ish. Playing my baby Horde Druid most of the week, so Amava didn't hit any Heroics or even any SSO quests with badge dropping potential during the week.

Enter Zul'Aman.

Our raid in ZA is like a box of chocolates (ok, stop with the damn box of chocolates thing today, would ya?). We've downed Nalorakk once and that's it. A grand total of 1 badge out of roughly a month or a month and a half in the dungeon.

Probably ain't gonna happen tonight, right?

Wrong. Nalorakk one shot. 99 badges of justice on the wall. 99 badges of justices. Akil'zon 4-shot. 2 more badges, baby. Port to Shatt. Port to the Isle. Mama's got her new pair of pants.

Slapped a Nethercobra on them doggies, and two epic gems I had sitting in the bank from previous Heroic boss drops, and I'm fully stylin' in mail.

I'll have to wait for my raid buffs to wear off to see the net effect on my stats, but it definitely is looking pretty sweet.

Akil'zon is Akil'gone

I couldn't resist the title.

Second boss in Zul'Aman sleeps with the fishes for the first time at the hands of my guild.

The wowwiki description confused the hell out of me, so I'll just go ahead and give it the old "this fight comes down to one thing and one thing only". If you've got the gear to kill Nalorakk, beating Akil'zon really only requires one little detail to master.

Team movement during Electrical Storms.

When your Boss Mod tells you there's about 6-ish seconds before the storm, cancel anything you're casting, and run into melee range of the boss. Everybody. And wait. Wait for it. Wait for it. Electrical Storm casts. Target raid member lifts up way high in a beautiful display of blue lightning, and then he drops back down. Now you can go back to max range and pew pew pew.

It really was that simple.

Oh, and you've got to space yourselves, but if you've beaten Maiden of Virtue this is no surprise. We ignored the little eagle adds entirely.

On each of the 3 failed attempts, the fight was totally under control, but each time, somebody would fail to run close enough fast enough during the storms. OR, since its a random amount of time from when the warning shows up to when the spell is actually cast, somebody would get impatient and run back into position before the storm gets cast.

The result is the same, you blow up.

So, show up with the gear to beat Nalorakk, and Akil'zon is just a matter of figuring out the movement for electrical storm. Assuming you've got enough AoE damage to clear the gauntlet up to him :-)

What a beautiful sight to behold as we strolled in with 1 Holy Priest, 1 Holy Paladin, and 1 Resto Druid. For a 10-man raid, that's a pretty sweet combo.

And next time I'm gonna expirement a little bit, perhaps at the expense of blowing my team up, but don't tell them that. During Electrical Storm, I was running into melee range, and just firing off Raptor Strikes and dropping Immolation traps. This gimps my DPS hardcore. Next time, I'm gonna try standing at minimum ranged distance and see if we're safe.

Shhhh, don't tell anybody.

/who's out there???

Sometimes I wonder about WoW. Lots of times. Most specifically when pondering raiding.

So we set into a new Raid week. The guild is all a-buzz with nervous and giddy energy. You've got the people on Team 2 anxious for their first raid as a real team. You've got the people who unfortunately were not able to be included in Team 2 because we've got just a few more players than raid slots. You've got the brand new guy to the guild demanding loudly in gchat that he will be raiding or leaving. Aside: his farewell was greatly celebrated :-)

And then you've got the people on Team 1. We're probably the most nervous group of the bunch. We've lost 2 healers over the last few weeks due to a work shift change and a several month hiatus/journey through foreign lands. Add to that, our third healer went on a 10 day vacation. Add to that, our Team 1 Rogue has his Pally alt as a tank on Team 2. So we're short 2 or 3 healers, plus a DPS-er.

Right at the same time, Team 2 starts up and our pool of substitute players is now locked into their own Raid ID.

We did a nice job recruiting a new Holy Priest, and I've got a solid Holy Paladin on my friends list who likes raiding outside his own guild (go figure).

So I found myself sitting in Deadwind Pass with 9 players in the raid. Hoping for a third healer, but perhaps willing to go 2 heals/6 DPS if we found a good enough 6th damage dealer.


I absolutely hate doing this, but I was desperate to keep the team feeling confident that we can co-exist with Team 2. The last thing in the game I need is for T1 to become threatened by T2 and then spiraling downwards from there.

See a Druid on /who not in a dungeon. Check him out on the armory. Resto. Sweet.

/pst Hi, sorry to bother you , I'm a random stranger who spied upon you and saw you have the class and spec I need. Now I'm randomly cold-calling you and want to borrow you for 3 hours. Care to join us for kara?

Nope, gotta log. sorry.

FINE!!! BE THAT WAY!!!! ok, no problem. thx for your time, sorry to bother you.

Refresh /who

Another Druid. Armory says Resto. /pst? Hell's yeah, only issue is I gotta log off at 11:00.

NP, we end at 11:00.

She's never been to kara before, but armory shows gear that's good enough to start out, given that we have 2 other healers and a nice solid veteran Tank and DPS corps. Lets give it a whirl.

We gave the place our usual whoopin, one shotting everything from Attumen through Shade of Aran, including The Crone which had only been experienced by 5 of the present raiders before. Outstanding job, great team chemistry. Honestly, my most fun raid in ages because we had very unknown expectations at the onset and we just had a blast.

Shade goes down at 10:55, we /cheer and head our separate ways.

So PUGs are like a box of chocolates, and this one turned up a snickers bar. Not one of those crappy orange marmalade jelly filled dark chocolate stupid ones with the sprinkling of coconut slivers on top. The kind you take a bite out of and put back half eaten in the box.

Leads me to want to slap Blizzard silly.

They've got an audience of players wanting desperately to find eachother and enjoy the game. Here we were, nearly ready to call the raid kaput before we even started, and a pretty random process of me bugging strangers turned up a perfect match. I luckily found a mature, patient, able to follow instructions, not saved to a Raid ID yet, player who's got a decently geared entry-level 70 toon of the class and spec I needed, who happens to have time availability that matches our raid schedule.

Talk about the stars aligning? This could have quite easily gone in a totally different direction and just sucked the big one.

Give us better tools to find eachother!!!