Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Track Herbs / Track Minerals

Anybody notice something funny with tracking lately?

As an Herbalis / Miner, everywhere I go, I spam...

/castsequence Find Herbs, Find Minerals

Map that puppy to mouse button 3 (actually press the scroll wheel), and combine it with Gatherer addon, and you're a rich toon.

I first noticed this weekend, though, that the toggling between tracking modes didn't seem to be working right.

It really wasn't switching, but rather, just leaving me in Find Herbs mode.

BUT, some, not all, Mineral nodes were actually appearing on my mini-map.

And then along comes Monday night.

Fueled by listening to the guild raid, I went into uber leveling mode. Elixirs, buff foods for me and Bubbles, potions whenever necessary.

And NO GATHERING! /sad panda

Use your huntery goodness to track Humanoids, Beasts, Elementals. Whatever the quest requires.

See the thing is, even while tracking Beasts, the mini-map was showing me both herbs and minerals.

And I'm not talking about the Gatherer icons that it puts in place of historical node locations. I mean the Blizzard User Interface including what would normally only display with Find Herbs. While tracking Beasts.

What's the deal?

Overwhelmed yet?

Listening to other people raid while you're still leveling is, shall we say, motivating. Dinged 2 levels listening to Vent while the rest of the guild smashed through 25-person Obsidian Sanctum and two wings of Naxx-25. Only one Hunter in the raid with them, and he was a PuG, I gotta get my @ss in gear so the guild will have a level capped Hunter.

(EDIT: ding! 80 on tuesday night)

While getting ready for raiding at level 70, I had lots of luxury time to plan out my toon's needs, and figure out what the hell I'm doing. Plus, I was a year late to Burning Crusade raiding, so by the time I got there, lots and lots of very condensed "how to get ready for kara" guides were out there.

The way things look, I'll need to be raid-ready by monday, which means there's lots of details to square away, and little time to do it. When faced with an overwhelming situation like this, I try to list things out, and try to make some sort of plan of attack. What follows is a totally unprioritized brain dump of things that need to be sorted out, and will hopefully form the foundation of an action plan that I'll use to try to steadily progress towards making Amiva the best she can be.

NOTE: lots of helpful folks have written up descriptions of small pockets of info in this list. I'm trying to link where I can (A) remember the post, and (B) find a link to it.

Here goes, in no particular order, the things I need to research for level 80 raiding:

General Readiness

Many of these won't be ready for monday, but I need to set a goal of at least knowing where I'm headed. In the places where I already have the info, I've tried to add it in. Not sure if this'll be a work in progress, or just a one-time braindump.

  • Faction for Shoulder Inscription (WoW Wiki had an Enhancements by Slot (EbS)page that was awesome, and hopefully updated for WotLK)

  • What's the deal with belt buckles? (review WoW Head for BS belt upgrades, or maybe WoW Wiki EbSt)

  • Favored gem of each color, including meta (there used to be a real good gem site, but d@mn if I can remember it)

  • Major & Minor Glyphs available at 80 (review WoW Head for Inscription recipes)

  • What new scopes are there (review WoW Head for Engineering schematics)

  • Favored Enchant for each slot, including some to fill temporary gaps like hit rating until level 80 gear makes up for that (WoW Wiki EbS)

  • Faction for Helm Thingie (used to be called Glyph) (WoW Wiki Enchants by Slot)

  • New Leg Armor packs (entry-level one and also the fancy nethercobra equivalent) (review WoW Head for LW patterns, or WoW Wiki EbS)

  • New Flasks for wipe-heavy nights (hopefully there'll be a nice abbreviation like Relentless Ass) (review WoW Head for Alchemy recipes)

  • New Guardian and Battle Elixirs for farm content (check WoW Head for Alchemy recipes)

  • New Health and Mana potions (review WoW Head for Alchemy recipes)

  • New quivers / ammo pouches

  • Scrolls, baby, scrolls. I used to avoid these due to their rarity, but with Inscription, probably have to appy for my Scroll Reader's membership

  • Level 80 hit rating requirements, including impact of MM talent. Might benefit from discussion with Raid Leader to see if I'll have any Draenei lovin in my party on a normal basis.

  • Level 80 Raiding Hunter spec (check WoW Insider for BRK post)

  • Tenacity Pet spec (again, check WoW Insider for BRK post)

  • Changes to Shot Rotation (my poor, poor 1:1 macro might have to take a rest) (Elitist Jerks, here I come)

Gear Planning

Wow, I need to take a rest now. But I can't, because the new Guild distributes loot via Loot Council. If you want loot, you've got to show you did your homework and have a plan. Currently, they're only looking for top loot desired out of OS & Naxx 25, but of course, I can't stop there, and need to look across all possible gear avenues, because I like beat these things to death.

For each Gear Slot, review the following:

  • Bosses in OS & Naxx (see if Kaliban's Loot List is still around

  • Heroic loot (Kaliban's)

  • Faction loot (Incompetent Warrior put together some Hunter rep items

  • BoE Craftable loot (LW or ENG) (WoW Head again?)

  • BG (not sure if level 80 raid-quality BG gear is out yet, or does that just come as Arena seasons expire and become BG loot)

  • Arena (/shudder)

Excellent places to start are Lassirra's list at the Hunter's Mark, and both of Drotara's lists (loot, more loot)

Raid Checklist

And finally, before accepting the invite, make sure you've got your bags full, cuz (A) its a good idea, and (B) the Officers are checking you out, Big Brother style.

Had a checklist when I started raiding at 70 a year ago. It quickly became committed to memory. All the items have gone and changed on me, so time to start over:

  • 2 stacks of buff food

  • 2 stacks of pet buff food

  • 1 stack of pet happy food

  • Full quiver of ammunition

  • 2 stacks of out of combat mana / health restoration (in case i forget to grab a couple stacks of magey biscuits)

  • 3 flasks (2 is required to cover 3 hours, but a third is handy incase I accidentally right click the buff and instantly blow a 50g flask, not that that's ever happened)

  • 20 battle elixirs

  • 20 guardian elixirs

  • 10 health potions

  • 20 mana potions

  • 2 stacks bandages (thankfully the Heavy Frostweave Bandage recipe dropped for me off a random mob in Zul'drak)

  • Agility Scrolls, probably similar in quantity to elixirs or buff foods, depending on their duration

No more mana oil, and a substantially reduced quantity of potions needed, but still a pretty sizeable checklist.

Yuck! Lots to do, and lots of turkey to eat between now and then!

Amava Knows Box, Part 3

Welcome to the season finale of my three part series about multi-boxing. In Part 1, I covered some basic two-toon action, and in Part 2 I explored the proper way to avoid seeing Azeroth, namely boosting your toons with a level 70. Today's edition returns back to a more realistic playing scenario where two toons become a tightly integrated fighting force.

I'll repeat my disclaimer from Part 2, and apologize in advance for the lack of macro examples in this article. When Blizzard switched over to server-side macros, they deleted all my existing ones, and the server transfer and mad dash to 80 (ding, btw) has pretty much disctracted me from multi-boxing. Sorry :-(

  1. Part 1: Two toons, one healbot

  2. Part 2: Three toons, one lvl 70, two babies along for the XP ride

  3. Part 3: Two toons, seamlessly joined up and working together as if two humans were playing

Now we're down to the real meat.

Before I bamboozle you into reading further, I'll totally discredit myself by saying that I've only done this through about 25 levels. If you're looking for a One Person / Ten Toons clear of Karazhan, sorry, I'm not your guy. If you want to stand in TP and dress your 5 shammies in pirate outfits and press one button and shock an attacker to death instantly, also not your guy.

But if you want to struggle through a variety of technical issues and the tedium of macroing every damn thing you do, then read on.

Before you get started with playing a tightly integrated team of two multi-boxed toons, you've got some things to take care of first.

Choose your classes

The very first is to pick out your classes. There's a variety of ways to make this decision.

Playing two identical classes can make some of the setup easier, but it can also reduce your flexibility.

Playing two identical toons can confuse enemy players because the won't quite know what they're looking at if your two toons are standing right on top of eachother. But it can also fool you. I confused myself time and time again playing two little Draeni beauties, but then again, I'm not the sharpest hammer in the toolbox.

Playing two melee classes is...well...just say no.

I've done some fiddling with the following combinations: Shammy/Priest, Mage/Priest, Pally/Druid

All three of them are pretty nice. Even once my toons are "highly" integrated, my playstyle still sort of revolves around one primary and one secondary toon, and I love having a secondary toon with an instant cast HoT so they can heal while mobile.

Develop a shot rotation

Once I picked out my classes, generally I'd start off with the healbot mentality I described in Part 1 of the series. As I got comfortable with the pairing of toons, I'd slowly add in some small attacks from the secondary toon, but still mainly use her as a healer.

Then I became curious to see how much more I could join them up and pretend I was two people. My therapist is helping me with that, but...well...Roses r red, violets are blue, I'm schitzoprenic, and so am I.

So I sat down to plan out a "shot" rotation.

For example, when playing Mage/Priest, here's the thought process I used.....

1) I'd like the two toons to enter combat as close together as possible. This means that either both toons open up with instant cast spells, or choose spells that have the same cast time. Single button press and both toons enter combat simultaneously.

2) Pick which toon you want to generally have aggro. For this pair, I want the mage to have aggro as much as possible, which will allow the priest to cast heals uninterrupted as often as possible.

3) Make sure that the first two attacks in the rotation end up generally putting more threat on the toon you want ot have aggro. Sure, crits and other effects are random so this might not work out 100% of the time, but generally I'd choose spells on each toon for the first and second salvo that would normally end up with the Mage delivering more damage and thusly more aggro.

4) Plan out your macros.

Number 4 is when it really sucked for a while, because I probably took it too far.

I wanted the pair of toons to be fully functional and not dependent upon eachother. I also wanted to be able to have them kinda function as though two real people were playing.

Little things like buffs. I'd macro it so I could easily buff eachother. Press a button twice and both toons end up with Fortitude and Intellect. However, a random passerby would drop Blessing of Wisdom on the girls, and I'd kinda be handcuffed and unable to buff them back. So tweaked the macros to allow me to target with the primary toon and have both buff him with a single press.

Same for heals. I made a few different buttons to allow me to easily heal either toon without having to rely upon fancy modifiers. Although it was very confusing at first to remember all those buttons, with time and practice, it became second nature.

All this was before patch 3.0.2, so managing all these macros, action bars, and key bindings across (at the time) two accounts and two computers was brutal. Patch 3.0.2 stores all of these settings on the server and makes this process exponentially easier.

Then I slowly added in more and more of the tasks that I'd do on a normal basis.

Create mana biscuits. Trade biscuits over to priest. Shoot stuff and deplete mana. Drink.

So I made macros to help with the trading and also the drinking.

Accepting group invites, setting focus, following, spreading out into a formation.

Then through practice, I would tweak the shot rotations. This varies hugely from class pairing to class pairing, so you'll have to play around to find what works for your selection.

For instance, for the Mage/Priest, I found this kinda nice...

Opener: Mage Frostbolt, Priest SW:P
Second shot: Mage Fireball, Priest Mind Flay (hit this button twice quickly, since SW:P would only need a GCD and Frostbolt would need some cooldown time, that lets Mind Flay start channeling and then the fireball start casting on the second press)
Third shot: Mage Fireball, Priest PW:S [target=Mage]

And so on. This sort of routine would generally end up with aggro on the priest immediately (but at ranged distance) because SW:P is instant and Frostbolt has a cast time. But by the time the mob got hit by the Frostbolt, Mage would grab aggro, and generally retain it through out the pull.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot more advice I can give on this, because that's the extend of my experience. The only recommendation I can make is to pick your classes so you have ones you like playing but also have some synergy in being together, spend a little bit of time planning out your basic tasks and attacks with a pencil and paper, and then practice like crazy.

Thus brings an end to my Multi-Boxing Mini-Series!

Pv-what now?

Having been born and raised on a PvE server, the horror stories of Life in Stranglethorn Vale never really held any meaning to me. The Isle of Gank'danas was only something to read about and laugh at.

Well, it sure was time for an education.

Allow me to sum up my findings from my first weekend on a PvP server...

Warning to Horde

Let it be known. I generally shant initiate combat on you, Mr. Hordie. If we're questing, I'll just try to ninja your quest mobs, same as I would if you were an Alliance player who declined my invitation or was behaving like a turd on /trade. I steal, but I dont keel (to stretch a rhyme out of "steal" and "kill"). If we're waiting for the same rare spawn, know that I'll do whatever I can to tag it before you can, and I'm damn good at it, but I won't kill you. Sorry for this, its just how we roll.

But, lemme warn the Horde, so as to save you the time of waiting with the other surprised players standing in line at the complaint desk.....

If you attack me first, know that I'll carefully weigh the time required to execute revenge versus the satisfaction to be gained from said revenge. If there's a creative way for me to get you back, that won't take too much of my precious time, trust that I'll be waiting, deep under the water, with my Hydrocane equipped, and I will strike at the moment most entertaining for me.

And, please, pretty please, with sugar on top, don't get between me and my minerals. Cobalt is fair game, you get there first, you win. Saronite might get you in trouble, depends upon how angry the behavior of your Hordie friends has made me over the previous 15 minutes. Horde near Titanium is Kill on Sight. I do not apologize, you have been warned.


With no idea what to expect, I set off into the world shortly after the server transfer was complete.

The Horde like to start you off slowly. At first, nothing. Just quest around, and see lots of friendly Alliance toons around. Ok, this is warm and fuzzy.

Then eventually, you come across some Horde questing in the same area. Ok, ok, seems to be a mutual respect amongst people leveling. Leave eachother alone, because we're all on a mission.

Then, in a cave in Howling Fjord, waiting for a named quest mob to respawn. GF calls out that she's got a rogue on her, while I'm clearing out some unnamed trash in the room. Ok, nice and nifty, usually when NPC mobs attack one of us, there's plenty of time to finish what you're doing and then go over and help eachother. Nope. Dead, nearly instantly.

Ah, our first gank, a Horde Rogue. And, like the brave warrior that he is, as soon as I get him to about 50% health, he vanishes and runs off. We finish the quest, and on the way out, he saps me and runs away. Very nice, thank you. You've given me a taste of what's to come.

Generally a mutual respect throughout the lands, Alliance and Horde questing amongst eachother, no real problems.

Sometimes Bubbles on Defensive mode will start attacking a Hordie that's right near a quest mob I'm killing. As long as I notice quickly, I'll get her back at my side quickly.

There's also the new changes since 3.0.2 that have you automatically targeting new mobs as your current mob dies, so I've inadvertently targeted and fired upon Horde. Sorry guys, but if I notice and correct it quick enough, they rarely turn and spank me.

The occasional gank here and there. Usually from a solo Horde player on me as a solo Alliance player.

Sometimes its near a quest objective, in which case, I can sort of agree with the mentality, since if they kill me off, it'll give them access to their quest a little faster. Ok, ok. You win.

But there's a few doozies who clearly make PvP servers what they are.

Sea Bulls Need a Little Action

The Sea Bulls are a pretty randy bunch. But it would seem that their Sea Bull bars are all sausage fests, and they can't find their way to the all-girls dorm across the water. So I gets me some fish and lead them over to carve off a slice.

Until Mr. Hordie thinks its cute to kill my Sea Bull, and then, him and his 3 buddies come and kill me. Luckily, I held them off long enough for the GF to finish her quest and get her Sea Bull some booty.

These guys weren't too bad though, as they left me alone when I came back.

The Cheap Shot

I head on over to solo Ragemane's Flipper in Zul'Drak at level 76. At the end, Ragemane is dead, Bubbles is dead, and I'm at less than 1,000 health. Every single ability on cooldown, including deterrence and lifebloom. Happy at having finished the quest efficiently, I swim past 4 Hordies who showed up to complete the same quest. Frikin undead priest feels compelled to smack me with a single Mind Blast which finished off the job Ragemane started. F. U. you spineless cheap-shotting worm.

Of course, true to the philosophy of gank or be ganked, I did the only thing that possible to reclaim some self respect. Corpse run, rez, and swim deep deep underneath where Ragemane spawns. Wait for the 4 of them to engage the mob, then start shooting their tank from the depths, straight up the pooper. Me and Ragemane took care of him quickly, then the healer who so thoughtfully Mind Blasted me earlier. At this point the two DPS'ers figured out what was going on and turned on me, killing me rather efficiently, only to get killed by Ragemane shortly thereafter. I'll chalk that up as successful revenge since they had to start over.

I just might learn to like this PvP stuff.

Sholazar is the new STV

And then, my night turned to sht.

Finish off Zul'Drak quests, and fly on over to Sholazar Basin. NOTE TO SELF: don't fly over Lake Winterchill. Wasted 20 minutes (A) figuring out how to get at this one node of Rich Saronite without being able to fly, and (B) figuring out how to get the F out of the zone.

Back to Sholazar.

Get 4 quests all in the same area with some Venture Co. folks digging in the dirt.

Fly there, land, start killing goblins and such. Then a silly horde unstealths, stunlocks, and kills me without my even being able to move or attack once.

Ok, ok, you got me, fair and square.

Run back, rez, start questing.

Again with the instadeath, only this time there's 3 of them.

Run back, rez, questing...

Uggy, now there looks to be 10 Hordies, spread all over the camp and they're killing all Alliance they can get their hands on.

Ok, so I fly over to a slightly different quest, finish that up, come back to the area. Looks clear.

Start questing, and the pack of 10 comes back, killing everything around them.

Strangely enough, after I got over the initial wave of emotion and desire to crush their windpipes IRL, it became a bit fun. Land real quick, kill a mob, loot a quest item off the ground, mount up quick enough to avoid the incoming Horde wave. Lather rinse repeat until quest is done.

But, facing a pretty strong desire to ding 80, wasting time like that gets old in a hurry.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A big and scary world

If you ever want to know just how important social networking is to WoW, change servers to a place where you technically know nobody.

Sure, if you're switching to join a guild, you've got the people in that new guild.

But you've got no rep. No street cred.

And no friends list to fall back on.

After spending a year and a half on the same server, you take for granted just how many people you know, and just how much your reputation is actually worth.

The culture shock starts when you log in for the first time and you're forced to change your name.

WTF, my damn name is taken already? By some punk @ss level 19 hunter who hasn't logged in for 3 months? /facepalm. Suppose that's what I get for using a name suggested by the Blizzard randomizer when I first signed up for my first level 1 character.

Impulsively just went with whatever tweak to my old name would be accepted as unique on the server. For the couple days since then, I've been seriously considering plunking down $25 to fix that impulse. But I digress.

Then, an hour later, your other toon transfer completes, and now you've got a banker / disenchanter, and happily, your friends list is no longer empty. But, a single solitary name actually looks more lonely than an empty list.

Make your way over to the big city in the sky. First thing you see? Three Mini-Vans standing outside the northern bank. On Terokkar, I had not seen a single other Traveler's Tundra Mammoth, but in my first 10 minutes, I've already seen three others. Welcome to a new world.

Eventually, one of the guild officers logs in and gives you the invite, and suddenly you're faced with the next wave of culture shock.

The guild's got 15 level 80's who are running Heroics and debating whether that night's attack on Naxx should be all-guild 10 or PuG 25. And you're sitting there blissfully ignorant at 74.

Better get your grind on!

As you clear out a zone, you're generally left with Group quests and Dungeon quests.

Luckily, a Hunter with T4-5 / Arena / Badge gear and a Gorilla can solo most of the Group quests, or find the occasional person on the same quest near the target.

But Dungeon quests? Rough to get a group for normal mode Nexus when everybody around you is 80 and your friends list only has your bank mule on it. Not just the guild, all over the server, seems people have outgrown non-end game after less than 2 weeks of Lich King. Even the LFG channel was filled with only Heroics - OR - every single player is a DPS'er.

News flash. I don't care if you're Retribution. If you're level 74, you can definitely tank Utgarde Keep without any spec change. Too damn many people have this mindset of "i spec dps, therefore i am dps". Hell, just to prove a point, me and the gf hit up Utgarde Keep. Just the two of us. She was a level 69 SHADOW PRIEST at the time. And I was a level 76 Hunter with a Gorilla. Just the f'ing two of us. She healed, Bubbles tanked, Amiva DPS'd and healed. And we cleared the first hallway before it became too much. Granted, it was painful, and had many wipes in that hallway, was just the f'ing two of us!!!!!! And she was 69!!!!!! And SHADOW!!!! So get your damn level 74 Retribution @ss in there and help a sister out!!!!!!!!

But I digress. Back to the strange new world...

While waiting for an escort quest mob to respawn so you can start up the quest, you run to get a soda IRL, and you come back to find yourself a spirit.

Welcome to PvP server, baby!

I'll save this little taste of culture shock for its own post.

Overall, I'd say the server switch is going reasonably, but the experience clearly illustrates the tremendous worth of your social network, and reminds you how much energy you actually put into building up credibility and reputation.

Now, if I could just get a group for Gundrak so I can finish those last few quests to ding the Accomplishment for questing in Zul'Drak, I'd be a happy camper.

Well, that's a lie, Happy Camper doesn't come until 80, but we'll have to see whether Turkey comes between me and that. At least I can fly in cold weather now!

Welcome to Conquest

In my ongoing effort to never actually enjoy stability and to continuously make waves for myself and other people, I've done it again.

I transferred servers. To a PvP server, none the less.

Matticus, of WoW Insider and World of Matticus and PlusHeal fame, started up Conquest, a new guild on the Ner'zhul server, with a guild charter and approach to raiding so consistent with my own thoughts that you'da thunk I wrote it. An initial conversation with some of the Officers illustrated even further how well we match up.

Spent some time deep in thought (usually means "on the throne", but not necessarily so in this case), and decided to make the plunge (c wut i did thar).

Choosing to leave Kishi Kaisei was painful. I've been on the Terokkar PvE server my whole WoW career, and I've been with the folks from Kishi for over a year. We've shared amazing times, a wonderful atmosphere, and lots of friendship. Each and every member of the team has contributed to making my gaming experience richer, and I will miss playing and hanging out with you.

Ultimately, I make the analogy to Jerry Seinfeld's choice to stop making his show. He did it when the show was on top, and actively chose to change things rather than do the standard human behavior of waiting for things to slowly change and break down until drama is massive and the choice to split up is inevitable.

Kishi remains in the hands of excellent Officers, and as always, the Membership is made up of an outstanding group of people, so I'm confident you will be successful and have fun moving into WotLK. I hope to hear great things about your experiences.

Likewise, Conquest has attracted people from a wide audience and server base. I look forward to getting to know the new team, and finding out the meaning of pain on a PvP server.

Did you really just compare your WoW gaming to Jerry Seinfeld? Are you kidding me?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Need a little help

Ok, time to help a sister out.....

  1. Professional Cooldowns: Anybody know a good addon for managing professional cooldowns? Remembering to log into each of the toons that have a transmute, inscription research, whatever, is not really working for me.

    • Requirement: convenient, difficult-to-miss notification. Can't be some obscure calendar entry I'll never look at.

    • Requirement: must work across all alts on a single account

    • Nice to Have: twould be nice if it worked across all alts on multiple accounts

    • Stretch Goal: twould be even nicer if it stored its data server side (perhaps in a calendar entry, lol) so it'll work across multiple computers

  2. Professional Leveling Ingredients: Looking for an addon that'll help me know if an item is useful for leveling a profession on one of my toons. An example would be Fel Iron. Amava farms it and wants to sell it for mass profit, but her Engineering cousin is looking for a couple stacks to level her profession. Would be great if there was an easy way for me to know if a given material would be useful to another toon before I sell it. NOTE: I've used BookOfCrafts, but its little popup windows became too much of a nusiance, and it didn't handle things properly when I dropped and changed professions.

    • Requirement:: convenient way to display to me whether an item is useful to another toon's profession or not.

    • Requirement:: must work across all alts on a single account

    • Nice to Have: twould be nice if it worked across all alts on multiple accounts. I'd be ok with this one if it wasn't some server-side data, and therefore was not super convenient across multiple computers.

    • Nice to Have: The interface should indicate whether the item will be used for a skill-up recipe, or the color of the recipe (orange, yellow, green, grey)

    • Stretch Goal: Allow me to specify which recipes I want to make to level up, and have it flag items for that. (ie, you have 4 orange recipes, but one is substantially cheeper than the others. would be great if it only flagged ingredients for the recipes I specify I want to use for leveling)

  3. Auctioneer Database: Looking to get my auctioneer data into a more usable format. I find the LUA difficult to parse, as I cannot locate a spec for the file format. I'm specifically referring to the simple market value and trading volume data, and not necessarily too much of the auctioneer statistical data. I wrote a make-shift parser, that takes several assumptions about the file hardcoded into it, and I'm not really happy with it.

    • Best: program I can execute that'll take my auctioneer lua file and populate either a Mysql, OpenOffice Base, or MS Access database

    • Good: Java library that'll take in my auctioneer lua file and give me some objects with reasonable API to access the data

    • Ok: program I can execute that'll take my auctioneer lua file and output a CSV or some other easier to digest format

    • Yucky: file format spec for the auctioneer lua files, and I'll write my own damn parser

  4. Shammy Totems: I'm not even looking for an addon to manage these at the moment. What I'm looking for is a way to disable the silly circles that the Blizzard default UI puts right near my Unit Frame to indicate which totems I've got down and their time remaining. I disabled all addons and still see the circles, thus confirming they're from the default UI. They are positioned directly over my X-Perl character buffs/debuffs and its hugely annoying. How do I disable these totem indicators from the default UI?

Help me with some or all of these, and I'll be your best friend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

99% of a Week in Review

Not quite a week has gone by since WotLK was released. Lets see what we've got....

1) Let me get the niceties out of the way first. The xpac is pure win so far. Anything close to complaining that follows is merely because I like to gloss over the 99% of something that I love, and focus all my energy on the tiny portion that could stand for some improvement. There, I said it. Three Cheers for the Lich King.

2) I'd tell Death Knights to rot in hell, but from what I understand, that's kinda what they're doing already. But the players behind 99% of the Death Knights? Mouth breathing, node and mob ninjaring turds. The other 1%? Sorry, but I'd rather make an error of commission than an error of omission here, so you're headed to Hades with 'em.

3) Murlocs. I've got to hand it to Blizzard that they were able to take the most hated race in the game and create, by far and away, my most favoritest quest line EVAHHHH. I entered the quest chain in northwest Borean Tundra with skepticism, because I (used to) hate murlocs. Slowly but surely, the smile on my face grew and grew, until I was giggling at the computer. Tadpoles and their underdeveloped ability to mrrrlglgle? Shoddily sewen together costume, awkward body position while jumping, and running with the goofy white flag? I'll go so far as to say I'm in love with this quest line and want to level another toon for the express purpose of repeating it. Can you give a bigger compliment?

4) Apparently 63% of this blog post will make reference to the number "99%". What's the deal? Even the title has taken on the 99% nomenclature. What started as a mere coincidence in the first two bullets has taken on a life of its own.

5) As a result of #2, the timing of my choice to drop LW/Skin and level up Herb/Mine was perhaps silly, to say the least. It was reasonable until I got to the Mithril/Sungrass stage. From there on out, the competition was so fierce, there were moments that up to 5 players would race to a node and the winner would get a variety of /spit, /salute, /rude, /clap from the others. It took on a life of its own through Hinterlands, Winterspring, Blasted Lands, and on through Hellfire and Zangarmarsh. Dinging 375 and heading to Northrend was heavenly.

6) How is "Fjord" pronounced? I'm of the understanding that its pronounced Fee-ord. In fact, another spelling of the word is "Fiord". 99% of the Guild is calling it "The Ford", like the car company. Pronounce it Ford and get an official Amava Slap Upside the Head of Disapproval.

7) I have come to learn that, when pushed, I am an OUTSTANDING ninja! Whether its mobs, nodes, slow-spawning-escort-quest-givers, improperly underpriced items on AH to turn for a profit, you name it. 99% of the time, I try to invite any Alliance toons I see standing waiting for a respawn. If they take it, sweet, they're in for some fun. If they don't, or if they're Horde? Sorry, but in Oz, its Shank or Be Shanked, and in Northrend, its Ninja or Be Ninjurd. Thankfully, Blizzard implemented some pretty quick respawn timers so the victims don't have to stew for very long.

8) I have not seen another Mammoth yet. Am I the only sucker?

9) Wasn't Blizzard going to discard the "realm first [whatever]" achievements? I guess not, because you periodically see a Realm First get broadcast. Kudos to the people who set a goal, and get the job done, whether it be leveling a toon, or a profession, or [whatever]. And to the people who spend the next half hour QQing about how the Realm First guy is a mother's basement dwelling virgin who needs to get a life? STFU. 99% of the complainers play the same number of hours as the Realm First folks. While I'm not about to try to compete for a Realm First (except for the Mammoth. do they give out a realm first achievement for that? if so, then I didn't get it. if not, any way to confirm if I did? lol), I can appreciate the motivation and drive it takes to accomplish one. Good job by you, Realm First Guys!

10) Traveler's Tundra Mammoth is 99% Win! On a normal mount, when you click to begin herbing, mining, or attacking a mob, you automatically dismount and begin attacking/gathering. Mammoth gives you an error saying you can't do it right now, and you have to manually dismount, and then begin your action. Pretty please, with sugar on top, change that!

11) Questing is definitely more fun than in the past. More concentration of quest givers. More things that overlap. 99% less feeling like I have to clear the same area again and again, first scouting, then killing mobs, then collecting items on the ground, and then killing a mini-boss mob. Thank you for that, Blizz.

12) Completed 99% of the quests in Borean Tundra. Every quest (I think) except for Last Rites. That one was bugged out and the quest mobs were frozen in position. Opened a ticket. An hour and a half later, a GM contacted me and said "we're working on it, try again later". Fine, fine. Don't bother me, Mr. GM Guy. I moved to the next zone already. Despite the speed, I'm enjoying it thoroughly, reading quest text when its fun, taking moments to enjoy the scenery or funny animations and scripted dialogues. Moving efficiently is different than racing.

13) There's something fun about having Bubbles the Gorilla get the killing blow on an animal, and then dismissing my animal-blood-debuffed companion, and talking to the pretentious folks at DEHTA. I actually do like the idea of saving the animals, and releasing baby elephants from traps just warms the heart. But the birkenstock wearers at DEHTA are just a little too over the top. PS - remember to turn off Thunderstop while killing the trappers, lest you aggro all the neutral animals you're trying to save.

14) Collecting microfilm from oil-slicked dog poo? Only thing better is the Murloc quests. Supposedly there's a quest where you actually get sick and head to the outhouse yourself, which is even better, but I haven't found that one yet. Would be funny if it takes place in Borean Tundra, after I've made the claim to have done all the quests there 'cept for Last Rites.

15) What is it about Vehicles that breaks most UI addons? 99% of the Vehicle quests, I have to log out and disable addons. The harpoon guns in the Fjord, flying rescue of feared villagers in (/forgets name of chilly place between the Fjord and the Tundra, oh now I remember) Dragonblight, perhaps others. Fun quests, but annoying addon breakage.

16) A single Rich Cobalt node allowed me to mine it a grand total of 9 times. At around 5, I started getting becoming amused. By 7 or 8, I was bouncing. At 9, it was pure "ka-ching". Cobalt is selling like hot cakes. Must be some rich folks really want their Motorcycles.

That's enough for now!

Amava Knows Box, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my three part series on munching box. In Part 1, I covered what I think is the simplest boxing concepts that I started out with, and progressed into gradual tweaks to the level of integration and synergy between the two toons. Today's edition goes in a different direction and explores using a high level toon to boost lowbies and grind out XP.

Ok, so there was a small delay in the posting of this second article. One could blame that delay on the WotLK. Or, better yet, one could blame it on Death Knights, which have become my go-to whipping boys for anything that's wrong or inconvenient with the game, or with life in general. Or, even better still, one could blame one's self, and take personal responsibility. Pish posh. I'll blame Blizzard. I wanted to include example macros in these articles as much as I could. When patch 3.0.2 hit, they moved macros onto the server. In the process, they dropped many existing macros. My fancy boxing macros are gone :-( So, I'll apologize on behalf of Blizzard (*) for the lack of substantial macro examples in the next two articles.

  1. Part 1: Two toons, one healbot

  2. Part 2: Three toons, one lvl 70, two babies along for the XP ride

  3. Part 3: Two toons, seamlessly joined up and working together as if two humans were playing

Three toons, one lvl 70, two babies along for the XP ride

Pretty basic situation here, play your level 70, put your babies on /follow, and go to town. This is only really useful for power leveling. Doing this technique, I had babies following for 60 levels, without even allocating their talents or giving them action bars. I'd put both their mounts on one action button, /follow Amava macro on another button, and maybe drag a heal onto the action bar if they were a healing class. Obviously, the toons weren't in very playable shape during this process, but whatever, they were only grinding XP not actually playing.

As the dungeons got tougher, I added in some macros to easily buff my pet, since she was tanking lots and lots of mobs. BRD has some 7-pulls that were dicey at times because lowbies pull aggro by simply showing up in the room, and a Mark of the Wild, Thorns, and Blessing of Might thrown on Condoleezza (and then Bubbles after the patch) made a nice little boost to her ability to hold aggro and consequently, allow me to burn them down fast enough for her to survive the pull.

I've done this on one computer/one monitor, two computers/two monitors, and two computers/three monitors.

Playing three WoW's on a single 24 inch monitor was kinda brutal. Using keyclone's maximizer, I setup Amava's window to be most of the viewable screen, and each baby would have her own small window along the right hand side of the screen. Eye strain was bad. However, my little mule of a PC easily handled all three versions fully maxed out on visual and sfx settings.

So, then I put the two babies on the laptop, next to the main computer.

Much easier on the eyes, and a little simpler, since I didn't use any keyclone on the main computer at all. Keyclone was used on the laptop to allow for single button /follow or mounting for both babies.

On the laptop, I use keyclone, but I don't use the maximizer feature for this, I simply start up WOW and allow keyclone to recognize the program name (wow.exe) and spray key presses out to both wow's.

For true fun, and nerdy paradise, I also rigged up another monitor to the laptop. Windows Vista easily allows you to expand your desktop to span across both monitors, so I'd fire up one WoW in windowed mode, drag it to the other monitor, and then fire up the second WoW and leave it in place on the laptop's native display.

Having all three large screen monitors next to eachother, each with its own toon running is quite a sight to behold. Especially when one of the toons shows up naked for no reason.

Standard disclaimer applies: those baby toons were useless other than for following and leeching up all available XP. Most of the talent points and class training was totally ignored up until level 50 or so, unless there was a specific spell I was going for (rez, ftw). Managing quests was a little bit of a pain in that I'd have to use the baby toons for looting quest items. I only did that during some of the dungeon runs, but generally just got the 300% XP from the RAF bonus, rather than doing too much questing.

Note about following

Picture this. A level 70 with two level 30's following. Mounted.

Unless you want to leave the babies far behind in the dust, you better remember to mount up on your non-epic land mount, which prior to patch 3.0.2, you had to search your bank bags unti you actually found your non-epic mount.

And, make sure you don't install your Riding Crop, which Outfitter is setup to do automatically.

I didn't want to fiddle with Outfitter, since I wanted to ensure my Riding Crop was properly equipped while I was playing without the babies. However, it became royally tedious to remember to unequip the damn crop every time I mounted, so I wrote a macro to make the process easier. Hit it once to mount up (at which point Outfitter will automatically don the crop), and once mounted, hit it again to equip the Bloodlust Brooch which will doff the crop and allow you to run with your babies.

If you find yourself slowly pulling away from your babies while traveling mounted, first check your trinkets to be sure you don't accidentally have a crop or a carrot equipped, and then if you're still pulling away, check your talents. You might have a talent that gives a slight boost to mounted travel speed. Pain in the tush to keep stopping every 30 yards or so to let the babies catch up.

That wraps up Part 2 of the series.

In the next installment, I'll go back to the world of playing two toons, of equal level, but instead of pure healbot, the secondary toon gets much more fully integrated into the action.

(*) Editor's Note: The author of this blog has no authority what-so-ever to make any statements on behalf of Blizzard, or any corporation for that matter. If you've got time to kill, go scour Blizzard's various websited to read for yourself about their official policy regarding Amava's qualifications to make statements on their behalf. Let me know if you find anything.

Soaking up the Sun

Ok, so i found this little gem laying in my outbox, having never been posted. Noboby's gonna give a crap, because it discusses The Burning Crusade, which lets face it, feels like it might as well have been 100 years ago. But for the sake of posterity, here ya go. The events described below took place on the Sunday night prior to WotLK's release.....

To lay The Burning Crusade raiding scene to rest with some panache, the guild decided to visit Sunwell Plateau for our last organized raid before the expansion pack.

Pretty place, if you're into Blood Elves.

Fun place, if you're into repair bills.

Having no idea what to expect, we zoned in. Saw a single large mob. Killed it. Oh, sweet, this'll be a cake walk.

Turn the corner. See two packs of 7 or 8 mobs. Come up with a reasonable strategy. Kill them. See, I told you it'll be a cake walk.

Walk past a threshold into the next room. Another pack of 7 or 8, a roaming pack of 4, plus a Scout who hauls ass and activates a dormant massive guy who's got chain lightning comin out his @ss like he ate a bad batch of Mighty Taco.

Welcome to Sunwell, Baby!!!!

10 wipes of trial and error resulted in what became dubbed as the "Distract - Soothe - Kill (TM)" technique. Rogue Distracts the scout. Priest Mind Soothes the scout. Priest counts down from 5. Everybody starts casting at the appropriate spot in the countdown so that all our shots fire as the countdown hits 1. We Kill the scout.

Using the DSK method, we successfully cleared all the way up to Kalecgos. Took two totally unprepared dances with the Dragon / Demon phases and called it a night. At our best attempt, we had Dragon form at 40% and Demon form simultaneously at 75%.

Not too shabby for a bunch of folks who raid 8 hours a week and only started Kara in January.

Whether you consider it a success for a raid to clear up to Kalecgos and wipe twice or not, we just dont give a hoot, because the team had a blast!

Last night put a cap on an amazing run of nearly 11 months of raiding. Karazhan progression team formed of people who never raided before, most of whom started WoW well after BC was released. Months and months of Kara and Zul'aman, building our reputation, recruiting new players who fit in with our style, reaching the point that we launched into 25-person raids in July. Blasting through T4. Tasting sweet sweet T5. Experiencing success in T6-level content before the nerf. And now, enjoying every dungeon the game has to offer, even if just for a single post-nerf night.

The real accomplishment, which isn't trackable by any Blizzard interface, is that we achieved this all in a relatively drama-free environment, focused on keeping the mood light and the progress steady. Reliably kept momentum up through dips due to personal lives, summer months, back-to-school, impending expansion packs, you name it. Along the way earning the respect of folks on our server, making friends, recruiting a solid membership.

Its a testament of the efforts of each and every Member, and each and every Officer, that we made it all the way to here. I hope the next year of raiding has as much in store for us as our first year did!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So, what've you been up to?

Land in Howling Fjord.

Priority # one. Figure out a way to get to Dalaran. Ding.

Priority # two. Find a level 71 mage who's willing to experiment a little to help get you up there. Ding.

Priority # three. Blow all the gold. Ding.

So, what've you been up to since then?

Utgarde Keep. Verah Nice! Great starter instance, love the Viking feel to the place. Running with T4/T5 geared level 70's (and one 71), it was still Constant Consecration, although not quite the blow-away that heroics had become.

For about 15 minutes, the tank DC'd. Bubbles and our Warlock's Felguard proceeded to tank trash, since we've both got the T5 2-piece bonus. Not too much fuss 4-man-plus-two-uber-pet'ing through the place.

Two thumbs up for Utgarde.

The Nexus. Another big winnah! A step up in challenge level, taking a little more coordination and focus (and probably gear, but for us it was the same 5 folks). Still Constant Consecration, so we haven't truly reached the point where we must return to Old School 5-man tactics, but we had a Mage, Hunter, and Warlock, so if Crowd Control was needed, we were ready.

The real win in my mind for Nexus was the boss fights. None were too too hard, but each has a little twist. Personal favorite, the last dragon guy, keep moving or you get Deep Freeze and more or less die. So throw out your shot macro and figure out how to keep pouring out the damage on the move.

Two thumbs up for Nexus.

Questing in Howling Fjord. So far nothing feels grindy. Granted, nothing feels "break-through original concept" either, but I'm fine with that for now. Absolutely love the one in the Utgarde Catacombs where you get some Holy Bubble around you and you run through the sewers vaporizing all the nasty uglies down there. And, Zedd's Almost Dead, just because!

Returning to my roots. Shortly after blowing the wad on the Mini-Van, I came across some Northrend herb, moused over it, saw the red color of the text indicating I couldn't pick it, and died a little inside. So I returned to my roots and have been leveling Herbalism and Mining. Its good to be back, although my timing to choose to flip out and drop Maxed out Master level professions is perhaps silly, as I've been running around Dun Morogh, Barrens, Stonetalon Mountains, and Arathi at 70 while all the cool kids were dinging 71, 71, and 73 in Northrend.

To all the Herbs and Minerals....Daddy's Back!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wooly w00t

Alternate title: Is when I reconsider Dual-Gathering

Traveler's Tundra Mammoth

Broke as a Joke

Very special thanks to a friendly Mage who helped me get to Dalaran at 70! Couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Can Haz Shiny Purplez

So, wednesday night.

With a few hours left before it was time to depart for GameStop to pick up my precious, we get together one last Kara run for giggles.

Had a couple of players who were part of that very first Kara run for our guild, back in January, so almost an Old Homes Night.

Naturally, we're crushin the place.

At the end of the Opera Event, Romeo was so kind as to cough up his Poison Vial trinket.

I look it over, say "what the hey", and win the roll.

As I'm equipping it, it dawns upon me that by wearing this in place of my trusty Hourglass of the Unraveller, with about 1.5 hours left until WotLK, my gear is now fully purple.

We got a laugh out of that!

See yall on the other side, I've got a couple DVD's to install.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Its around 11:30 PM EST on Tuesday.

The servers are still down. There's still no sign that they'll be back.

Something about in-game email or something.

I'd give anything. Anything. to be a fly on the wall in that room with the computer systems support folks right now.

With 24 hours and 30 minutes until the biggest moment for the company in a couple years....the stress, tension, agony, and career-ending blunders in that room must be simply splendid.

On a lighter note, I took the time during the outage, when I was going to be leveling with the gf to get our babies up to 68 by tomorrow evening, to update my savings tracker to aggregate the data from all three accounts, not just the account that has Amava and her bank mule. Yay, me!

But I suppose the babies are going to have to wait until the weekend to hit Northrend :-(

Amava Knows Box

Sorry, I just couldn't resist the title.

Multi-boxing. Some frown upon it because they claim it makes the player/toons too over powered. Others think its a hoot, and love running around totally over powered and blasting every single-boxer they can find. Regardless of which camp you're in, Blizzard officially sanctions the practice, because lets face it, one player paying multiple software license fees and multiple monthly subscription fees is pure win at the corporate boardroom.

In the inaugural installation of Ask Amava, Rysteranch from Musings of a Nutjob writes:

I was wondering if you could expand on your dual boxing set up. Do
you use one computer or two? Are there any addons that you would
recommend to make things easier? I only found two posts on your blog
from the search function that related to dual boxing.

Lets bump that number to three posts, shall we? This one is long-ish, so if you have no interest in multi-boxing, scooty scoot and go read about the new President-elect or something.

From a multi-boxing perspective, I've mainly done two things: 1) a pair of toons, one doing the playing, the other following around as a healbot, 2) a trio of toons, one being played, and the other two simply collecting insane masses of RAF XP in low level dungeon run throughs, and 3) a pair of toons seamlessly joined up and working together as if two humans were playing together.

So lets take a look at these, starting from the simplest setup, up to the more complex ones.

The post grew way too long, even for my wall-of-text crit TL/DR tastes, so this one will be rolled out over a three part series.

  1. Part 1: Two toons, one healbot

  2. Part 2: Three toons, one lvl 70, two babies along for the XP ride

  3. Part 3: Two toons, seamlessly joined up and working together as if two humans were playing

So, welcome to Part 1, the story of Two toons, one serving as a healbot, the other playing as a normal solo toon who's got a pet healer.

I'll start off by saying that there's lots of addons and software out there aimed at helping make multi-boxing easier. I used no addons, although I really would like one that helps manage quest accepting and completing, because that was a big pain. In some of the scenarios that I'll describe, I do use Keyclone, so if you're using this as a guide, you might want to pick up a copy. Its inexpensive, and works pretty nicely for me. Also, I read a bunch at

Lets get on with the show...

Two toons, one healbot, two computers

This one can be as simple as you'd like it to be. Simply log into one account on one computer, the other account on the second computer, and have at it. Put looting on Free-For-All, and have the toon on the primary computer do all the looting. Put the healbot toon on the secondary computer and have her /follow all the time.

Using this method, I make sure the healbot is targeting the primary toon, so its simply a matter of reaching over to the other keyboard and pressing a heal button as necessary.

This steadily became tedious, because sometimes the target would switch if the healer got attacked. Also, for some quests, you need to reach over to the secondary computer and do some looting for quest items, and then you've got to remember to re-target the primary toon. Using the /follow method of movement, you also need to make sure you hold the primary toon still while the healbot is casting a spell, because if you move too far, it'll interrupt the heal and start running to follow you.

So, pretty quickly, I macro'd the main commands to hardcode the primary toon as the target, for example...

/cast [modifier:alt,target=player] [target=JoeMama] Renew

I think that you can do this much more easily with a /focus and the new 3.0.2 changes that allow you to specify a modifier that targets your focus for all spells, but my multi-boxing was before that was available, and I always forgot to focus on my primary toon, so I hardcoded the toon name.

I generally create 2 or 3 of these macros to cover a HoT, one direct heal, maybe a shield or buff or something nice like that.

I also ended up adding a macro so I wouldn't have to keep right-clicking the unit frame and choosing a menu option to follow...

/target JoeMama

That's pretty much it for the simple example. No special software, no special hardware (besides needing 2 computers), no addons, no nuthin.

Two toons, one healbot, one computer

I went on a business trip, and only had one computer with me, and for giggles, I wanted to try doing this same routine on a single computer.

Keyclone to the rescue!

Relatively easy to setup. Made even easier by following this guide.

In this scenario, you use Keyclone's maximizer feature to open up two copies of WoW on the single computer. It also takes keyboard input and sends commands to both WoW's simultaneously.

This was a mix of good and bad.

GOOD: No switching of hands from one keyboard to the other. I simply mapped three of those healbot macros and the follow macro to 9, 0, -, = keys at the right hand side of the action bar (and kept the rest of the healbot's action bar blank), and also kept those same spots blank on the primary toon's actionbar. So, if I needed a Renew to be cast on the primary toon, just hit =, and if I needed a Renew on the healer hit alt-=.

BAD: Even on a 17 inch laptop display, which is pretty big as laptops go, the two screens made the viewable area brutal. Very straining on the eyes to play like this. However, my laptop was easily powerful enough to run both copies at maxed out visual and sound effects.

NOTE: in either of these situations (either one or two computers), the pair of toons is pretty much useless for playing with other players, its only useful for you to play by yourself, actively working the primary toon, and only making minimal use of the other toon for some very basic healing.

Two toons, one healbot that does a little damage output

The pet healer deal works very nicely. You've got no idea how much more aggressive you can be in pulling mobs and advancing towards your quest goals with the simple addition of a healer. Priest is a very nice choice. Playing an Enhancement Shammy, doing nothing else with the Priest besides Power Word: Shield and Renew, you just blast through all leveling content. It really is quite fun.

After doing this for a bit, I found that I had lots of down time where the follower-healbot was doing nothing. To help speed things up, I added in a couple more macros to allow the healer to easily do damage....

/target JoeMama
/cast [target=targettarget,harm] Shadow Word: Pain

Made it very easy to have the primary toon doing all the work, but whenever I wanted a mob to burn a bit quicker, I'd reach over to the other keyboard and trigger the SW:P or Mind Blast or whatever else you want. Its not hugely flexible, but it does allow you a little extra firepower without adding too much complexity.

Again though, without making the macros more sophisticated, I'm left with the healbot toon being setup exclusively for working paired up with a very specific toon, and not much use outside of healing or assisting that toon.

So for the basic setup of playing two toons together, that's about it. You can become much more advanced in how the two toons are played, but generally, that's how I got started out. Play one toon as if she were solo, and have the other throw out a heal as necessary to allow you to tackle more mobs at a time and maintain a faster pace between mobs.

In the next installment in the series, I'll explore using one mama toon to boost a pair of babies.

Absolutely Required Reading for Raiders

I just stumbled upon this gem today, and I wept for having only found it now, at the tail end of Burning Crusade.


Angry Raid Leader

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Queue THIS!

Elune be praised that 11/4 was the last day for free server transfers.

The last 7 days on Terokkar have been chock'a block full of just plain garbage on /trade and /general

Does this server ever win at AV?

How many Sunwell guilds on this server?

New transfer LF guild

[guild-name] just transferred to terokkar, we have cool tabard, one bank tab, and really helpful. pst to join

this server is full of nubs that suck. i'd never transfer here

chuck norris transferred here last night

For the first time in over a year of playing WoW on the same server, I came across my first login queue.

You mean people actually wait to log in?


Granted, I only had to wait 2 minutes.

And granted, the fact that the number of people ahead of me was 69 which more than made up for the delay in amusement value alone.

Hopefully Chuck Norris scared enough people off so we'll not have too much wait time going forward.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Triumphant in the Black Temple

Suffice it to say Naj'entus has been nerfed to the ground, like Ret Pallies should be.

Happily, we're still raiding strong with decent numbers of folks showing up and raids kicking off close to schedule.

Waltz up through the sewers, stomping everything in our path.

Nature Resist Totem raid-wide, FTW! Lets me not have to fiddle with hunters and Aspect of the Wild in each party.

Trash that was previously troublesome, no hesitation, practically Leroy our way through the pulls.

During the two massive trashies infront of Naj'entus, our favorite Rogue does his new trick that bounces him between 5 targets and he pulls the boss.

Three choices here:

1) Eat the wipe. Stop healing, stop bandaging, stop avoiding AoE effects. Everybody die and lets regroup to kill the two trash mobs and the boss..

2) Kill the trashies and then eat the wipe. Since we're already in combat, lets finish off the two trash mobs and then die and regroup for Naj'entus only.

3) F it! We're here, lets just f'ing do it!

Option 3 ended up being the winner.

Major kudos go out to the team for adjusting so quickly to the prematurely started fight. Healers were right on the ball transitioning from regular trash to the hugely stressful job of keeping everybody topped off through the tidal shield bursts.

Major kudos go out to blizzard for nerfing the tidal shield burst from 8.5k to roughly 6k, which certainly helped us survive, lol.

Well, that was easy. Quick like a bunny, lets take our first BT "dead boss screenshot" and head on into the Illidari Training Grounds.

This room just looks so cool. Seeing it for the first time really made me appreciate the fact that the team is still motivated to keep raiding, because it really is a sight to see. Scary-looking mobs everywhere. Dragons (since when are dragons called Wyrms? can we call them dragons please?).

Took out Supremus in a two-shot.

This fight is fun as hell. As a class that does kiting as a way of life, getting targeted by the boss was outstanding as I was able to keep pouring on damage while leading him around the room. Glyph of Serpent Sting + Glyph of Arcane Shot, FTW!

In the killing attempt, he targeted Skittle the Wasp FIVE (5) F'ing times!!!!!! Mend pet + T5 bonus wasn't enough, so sadly she died all 5 times. But Improved Revive Pet to the rescue.

So, we've got 2 raid nights left before WotLK, plus an old school kara run for wednesday the 12th. If all goes as planned, we're gonna hit the Sunwell Plateau and maybe even take a shot at Kael'thas for giggles. Still rockin and rollin!

Professions Galore

Powerleveling a profession is a pretty mind numbing tedious process.

Some professions are nice in that you can click the "create all" button and just let 'er rip on autopilot through the levels. First Aid is nice in this regard.

Others, like enchanting, just suck for powerleveling. If you're a silly goose and just enchanting the same item over and over, rather than using the new and beautiful Vellums that will allow you to actually retain those enchants for actual use at some point, you have to click the enchant button, click the piece of armor you want to enchant, and then click yes on the confirmation dialogue box. Uggy.

One thing that all professional powerleveling have in common is the need for copious amounts of materials.

This past weekend was chock full 'o professions.

Inscription. Enchanting. Blacksmithing.

As with just about everything in life, I invite my own pain.

I've got my Miner (and thus, my smelter who can turn ores into bars) on one account.

I've been mailing all my ores and stones over to a toon on another account.

And I've got my new Blacksmith on the same account as the Miner.

Combine this with a burned out laptop, and as such only one computer in action, and you've got my Alt-Tab keys just absolutely being abused all weekend, trading mats back and forth, back and forth between the toons. Logging in, trading, smelting, trading back, logging out, logging back in on other toon, trading back, crafting for 5 blacksmith skill points. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Would be made easier by the use of a guild bank, but I'm a jackass and have all my tabs totally filled up, and so this is not a viable option.

When mats get low, get back on the Miner, fly out to Arathi or Un'goro or Silithus or Blasted Lands or the one that's south of Searing Gorge and has lots of Thorium, run a few laps around the zone, mail the mats. And repeat the process over and over.

And then to take a break, go hop over to the Enchanter and enchant, re-enchant, re-re-enchant, to keep the levels moving on that one. Until you get to the transition to a new type of runed rod. Then you've got to jump back to the Blacksmith to keep that skill moving up until you can craft the proper rod.

See the real problem is that I'm going the frugal route here. I'm refusing to pay for any external mats here. I'm hovering right around the Mini-Van down payment, and I won't succumb to the extortion that's going on on the AH right now.

The end result is just plain mind numbing. But fun. I'm finally getting close to realizing my age-old vision of wanting a self-sufficient family of professional toons.

The Inscriptor is up to the point where she is milling Outlands herbs, w00t.

The Blacksmith still needs to craft a bunch of Thorium gear, and I used up all my Thorium. Went out to farm some more. Became hugely frustrated by the Necropolis invasion, because its attracting lots of farmers to zones that would otherwise be barren. Tanaris, Blasted Lands and the one south of Searing Gorge (morgan's vigil flight path) are all nearly useless to me for Thorium right now. I'm still on an anti-Ungoro kick, so Silithus was the place, and it was doing rather nicely. A commenter on this blog, mandm413, recently recommended Winterspring for Thorium, so I think I'm gonna try that one out, even though it'll require me to do a little work to get the Timbermaw to let me use their tunnel.

The Enchanter is stuck in a little deadzone that requires more Greater Nether Essence, which I've only got a couple left. AH prices are insane for GNE, so Ima have to look up what dungeons drop gear that DE's to Nether Essence and give it a couple of farming runs.

And to make sure that all this professional progress is emotionally fulfilling, I've got to keep reminding myself that I'll be revisiting the low level areas again when I hit up Jewelcrafting, Alchemy, and Engineering.

I've got issues.

Not the lightbulb moment I'd like

At work, there's this dinosaur of a systems programmer, counting the seconds to her retirement. During any really energetic back-and-forth creative sessions, she'll more or less sit there absorbing, sometimes chiming in here and there, but generally having this blank skeptical look on her face.

Then, all of a sudden, her face and body language become all animated, and she'll generally stand up, and point her finger into the air to punctuate as she says "AH-HA! Lightbulb moment!" to indicate that she now understands what's going on.

I had my own lightbulb moment this weekend, but not quite the same.

10 days until WotLK.

My laptop monitor screen starts going blank intermittently. Phone call with HP tech support. T'would seem the stupid lightbulb is not working and the stupid LCD display won't illuminate anymore.

They say it'll take 7-8 business days for the warranty service to fix it.

Assuming that's right, 7-8 biz days would indicate its back in action 11/11 or 11/12.

Not holding my breath though. Have you ever had a computer repair service, that involves shipping equipment to the manufacturer and back, ever take even close to the estimated amount of time?


Monday, November 3, 2008

Fewer Details

So they're sayin that mana oils and weapon sharpening stones are gonna end at level 70.

Raiding at 80 wont include them. Raiding at level 80 also wont include copious amounts of potions, since you can only drink one per combat.

Ever since patch 3.0.2, my pet almost never becomes unhappy, so my need for happy pet food is very low.

More and more of the pre-raid details are being removed.


I went from burning nearly 30 Fel Mana Pots a night (curse you, lengthy Al'ar wipes), to not even using a single one.

This reduces my need for out-of-raid grinding substantially.

Sure, I still need ammo, repair bills, flasks/elixirs, bandages, Hunter buff food, Pet buff food, drums, some (much less, but still some) potions, scrolls (didn't really use them reliably in TBC, but with Inscription, scrolls will be ubiquitous).

So the need to farm for raids isn't totally gone, but the burden is reduced.

Verah Nice!

Raiding is fun, let us get at it.

Preparing for a raid is not fun, let us skip it.

Make raiding about mastering individual skills with your own toon/role and mastering how you operate as a cohesive unit with your teammates.

The aspect of the game that's just a shopping list that takes longer to gather than my RL grocery list is just plain old not fun. Well, I suppose making a bee-line for Beer, frozen White Castle cheeseburgers, and lube doesn't take that long, but I digress.

Git'cho Enchants

Tobold writes about not seeing enchants on the AH since the release of Inscription and the vellums that you can enchant and sell, thus freeing enchanters from their lives of spamming trade channel.

Who really knows, but I'm thinking it comes down to risk.

Lets look at an enchant like Mongoose. Even though it drops off of Moroes, its still a pretty rare enchant. My guild has killed Moroes a bazillion times, and we have only a single Mongoose-capable enchanter.

So its rare, which is nice if you're an enchanter.

But its also expensive. Just off the cuff, I'm thinking its between 500-600 gold for the mats, plus if you've got any integrity you'll be slapping a nice fat tip on there for your enchanter.

For an enchanter to choose to sink all that gold into mats, and then irreversibly lock those mats into a Mongoose enchant, without any real knowledge of a buyer on the other side. That's a pretty big risk. Sure, there will be a buyer come along sooner or later, as lots of people use it. But until you have a buyer, you've locked up a big chunk of change.

Here's two possible proposals....

  1. We currently have the AH. Its a place where people who have something and want to sell it can post their wares, and customers can come and buy them. When you post something to the AH, you technically have no knowledge of the demand for your wares, other than seeing the current market conditions, and maybe your own observations of the recent history of market conditions.

    Blizzard could develop the converse of this. Give us a place where customers can post an item they are looking to buy. Would-be sellers can look this over and send price quotes to the posting customer. OR they could allow a customer to post his desired price, and a seller could click it and automatically have it convert to a CoD for that price.

  2. An alternative...We already have CoD as an option. This means that a seller has to tie up his/her gold into an item, and send it to another player. The seller is taking the risk that the other player will just sit on that email. Sure, the customer does not get use of the item until they pay the gold, but until they do that, the seller has their money tied up in those mats they invested up front to craft the item.

    Give us the converse of CoD. Item on Delivery or Product on Delivery. Build an interface that allows a customer to send an agreed upon amount of gold to a seller. The seller now has 100% confidence that they'll get paid for their product. They'd still have to front the gold for crafting, since the customer's gold would be sitting in the email escrow, but the seller would have no worries about compensation for the money they put into crafting. The system would have to have some way of allowing the customer to specify the EXACT item they want in order for the seller to complete their portion of the deal that would release the money from the escrow, so maybe this part is the kicker that would prevent the system from working.

    In this scenario, the buyer is the one who locks up his money, running the risk that the buyer will sit on his thumbs. Sure, the seller does not get the gold released until the correct item is attached and sent to the customer, but I think that's a little more reasonable than the flip side.

Generally, I'm a big fan of the vellums and the ability for Enchanting to be done without face-to-face contact. We'll have to see how it plays out over time, because in addition to the risks and such discussed above, its a big cultural change for people to move away from traditional Enchanting.